HomePregnancyPreeclampsia - What is it, its Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis.

Preeclampsia – What is it, its Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis.


Medically Reviewed By

Preeclampsia in pregnancy is a dangerous blood pressure problem, that can appear in expectant mothers frequently. Proteinuria, elevated blood pressure (hypertension), and other organ damage symptoms are frequently seen in preeclampsia patients. Low numbers of platelets, blood cells that aid in blood clotting, as well as signs of renal or liver disease, may also be present. Preeclampsia often appears after the 20th week of pregnancy in pregnant women whose blood pressure was previously within normal limits. Additionally, it can harm other organs and pose a risk to both the mother and her growing fetus.

Preeclampsia meaning there is a pregnancy complication. Preeclampsia can be characterized by high blood pressure (more than 140/90 mmHg) and possible excessive levels of protein in the urine. Your heart and other organs are put under strain by preeclampsia, which can result in significant consequences. Additionally, it may impact your placenta’s blood flow, harm your liver and kidneys, or result in fluid accumulation in your lungs. Your urine’s protein content is an indicator of renal disease. Preeclampsia must be managed by a healthcare professional due to these risks.

Preeclampsia Causes 

Most Preeclampsia causes are unknown to experts. Numerous factors are likely involved in the precise causation of preeclampsia in pregnancy. Early on in pregnancy, new blood vessels form and change to provide the placenta (the organ that nourishes the fetus) with nourishment and oxygen.

These blood vessels don’t seem to form or function normally in preeclamptic women. The blood arteries that supply the placenta react differently to hormonal signals and are narrower than normal, limiting blood flow, according to the majority of specialists, which indicates that there is a problem with the placenta’s growth. 

If there are problems related to the placenta’s blood circulation, the mother’s blood pressure may not be properly controlled. Additionally, experts do not fully comprehend why the blood vessels develop differently, but a number of variables could be at play.

These consist of:

  • blood vessels have been damaged.
  • inadequate blood supply to the uterus
  • immune system difficulties
  • genetic influences

Preeclampsia Risk Factors

High preeclampsia risk factors include:

  • Prior preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Becoming pregnant with multiple children
  • High blood pressure that persists (hypertension)
  • Pre-pregnancy diabetic (Type 1 or type 2)
  • Kidney illness
  • Immune system diseases
  • In vitro fertilization is used

Moderate preeclampsia risk factors include:

  • First child with the present partner
  • Obesity
  • Preeclampsia in the family
  • 35 or older as a mother
  • Problems from a prior pregnancy
  • About a decade since the last pregnancy

Preeclampsia symptoms

Preeclampsia in pregnancy can frequently affect without any symptoms. High blood pressure, protein in the urine, and water retention are some of the early signs of preeclampsia in people who have it (this can cause weight gain and swelling). Edema and weight increase are common throughout healthy pregnancies. However, preeclampsia may be diagnosed if you gain weight all of a sudden or develop edema, in your hands and face particularly.

Other warning signs of preeclampsia include:

  • Headaches.
  • Vision that is blurry or light sensitivity.
  • Dark patches in your vision.
  • Right-side abdominal discomfort
  • Hands and face swelling (edema).
  • Difficulty in breathing

It’s critical to inform your healthcare practitioner of all of your pregnancy symptoms. Until their blood pressure and urine are examined at a prenatal appointment, many people are unaware they have preeclampsia.

Severe  Preeclampsia Symptoms may include:

  • emergency hypertension (blood pressure of at least 160/110 mmHg).
  • decreased liver or renal functioning.
  • lungs with fluid.
  • low amounts of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).
  • less urine being produced

If your preeclampsia is severe, you may be admitted to the hospital for careful monitoring or need to deliver as soon as possible. Your doctor may prescribe drugs to lower your blood pressure or aid in the fetus’s lung development prior to delivery.

Preeclampsia Diagnosis

Preeclampsia in pregnancy is frequently discovered when your healthcare professional examines your weight growth, blood pressure, and urine during standard prenatal visits. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, a preeclampsia diagnosis is made if you experience high blood pressure. Mild and severe are the two levels of preeclampsia. If you have high blood pressure together with high quantities of protein in your urine, you can be given the diagnosis of mild preeclampsia.

If you experience symptoms of moderate preeclampsia with at least one of the following findings, you are given a severe preeclampsia diagnosis.

  • Urinary protein (proteinuria), a sign of renal disease
  • Any indications of kidney issues
  • Low level of blood platelets
  • Increased liver enzyme levels indicate a damaged liver
  • The lungs’ fluid (pulmonary edema)
  • New headaches that are new don’t go away despite pain medication
  • New disturbances in vision

Monitoring of High blood pressure

Reading of the blood pressure is done by two numbers. Systolic pressure, the pressure of blood which is measured when the heart is contracting, is the first number. The diastolic pressure – the pressure of the blood when the heart is relaxed, is the second number. If the systolic pressure is 140 mm Hg or higher or if the diastolic pressure is 90 mm Hg or more, high blood pressure in pregnancy is noted to be present.

Your blood pressure can be impacted by a number of things. When at your doctor’s,  If your blood pressure comes up high, your doctor will most likely take another reading four hours later to confirm the diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Your doctor is most likely to recommend additional tests to check for other signs of preeclampsia If you have high blood pressure.

Blood test– How well the liver and kidneys are functioning can be determined by a lab examination of a blood sample. Blood platelets – the cells that help in the formation of the blood clot, can also be quantified by blood tests.

Urine examination To assess how effectively the kidneys are functioning, your doctor may request a 24-hour urine sample or a single urine sample.

Fetal ultrasoundYour baby’s development is likely to be closely monitored by your doctor, using ultrasound. Estimates of the baby’s weight and the amount of fluid in the uterus (amniotic fluid) can be made using the photos of your baby produced during the ultrasound examination.

Biophysical profile or a non-stress test A nonstress test is a quick process that determines how your baby’s heart rate responds to movement. An ultrasound is used to measure your baby’s breathing, movement, muscle tone, and amniotic fluid volume during a biophysical profile.

 Preeclampsia Treatment

The ideal course of preeclampsia treatment  will be recommended by your healthcare practitioner. Preeclampsia is mostly treated by either giving birth or managing the condition until the ideal moment to do so. The severity of your preeclampsia, the stage of pregnancy you are in, the general health of both you and your unborn child, and other factors will all affect how you are treated.


The doctor might suggest bed rest if the patient is still pregnant but has only mild symptoms. Resting lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow to the placenta, which is good for the developing baby.

Some patients may be advised by doctors to lie in bed and only sit up or stand when necessary. Others may be permitted to lounge in a chair, on the couch, or in bed, but their ability to move around will be carefully constrained. Regular blood pressure and urine tests will be performed, and the baby will be constantly watched by the doctors.

Severe Preeclampsia Treatment

You must stay in the hospital if you have severe preeclampsia in order to have your blood pressure and other consequences monitored. Your doctor will routinely check on your baby’s development and general health.

The following drugs are frequently used to treat severe preeclampsia:

  • Blood pressure-lowering antihypertensive medications
  • Preventing the onset of eclampsia with anticonvulsant medicine, such as magnesium sulphate (seizures from preeclampsia)
  • Corticosteroids to promote the baby’s lungs development before delivery.

Your baby will likely be delivered early if you are nearly at full term (37 weeks or more). You can still give birth vaginally, although a Cesarean section (C-section) may be advised in some cases. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your blood pressure and aid with the development of the fetus’s lungs until the baby can be delivered. Sometimes it is safer to deliver the child sooner than to take the chance of having a longer pregnancy.

You will be closely monitored if preeclampsia appears earlier in pregnancy in an effort to keep you pregnant longer and give the foetus more time to grow and develop. More prenatal checkups will be scheduled for you, including ultrasounds, urine tests, and blood tests. Your blood pressure may need to be checked at home. 

After Delivery

The Preeclampsia Foundation states that when the baby is delivered, preeclampsia symptoms normally go away in 48 hours. According to research, many preeclamptic women have symptom resolution and a return to normal liver and kidney function within a few months.

Even if you had an easy pregnancy, preeclampsia can develop after delivery. Postpartum Preeclampsia, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, normally develops 48 hours to 6 weeks after delivery.

After giving birth, you need to be constantly watched for high blood pressure and other preeclampsia symptoms. You will be told before you leave the hospital when to call an ambulance if you get postpartum signs of preeclampsia such as severe headaches, vision problems, severe abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.

Preeclampsia Complications

Complications of preeclampsia may include:

EclampsiaDoctors define Eclampsia as a condition characterized by unexplained coma or seizures in the setting of gestational hypertension. Preeclampsia progresses severely to eclampsia.  High blood pressure causes seizures and unconsciousness in people with this illness. It might even be lethal. Eclampsia develops during pregnancy or, in rare cases, after delivery, just as preeclampsia. 

Predicting whether a patient with preeclampsia will develop eclampsia is exceedingly difficult. Severe headaches, eyesight issues, mental disorientation, or unusual behaviors are some of the warning signs and symptoms that can arise before seizures. But frequently there are neither symptoms nor any warning signs. Even if there aren’t any preeclampsia-related symptoms or indications, Eclampsia can still occur.

Restriction of foetal growth- The arteries that supply blood to the placenta are impacted by preeclampsia. The fetus may not receive adequate blood supply, oxygen, or nutrients if the placenta doesn’t get enough blood. This may result in foetal growth restriction or delayed growth.

Preterm delivery- Unplanned premature birth, or delivery before 37 weeks, could result from preeclampsia. planned preterm birth is the foremost preeclampsia treatment. An infant that is born too soon is more likely to experience breathing and feeding issues, vision or hearing issues, developmental delays, and cerebral palsy. Certain hazards may be reduced by treatments before premature delivery.

Placental abruption- Your risk of placental abruption increases if you have preeclampsia. Before delivery, the placenta separates from the uterus’ inner wall in this situation. Heavy bleeding brought on by a severe abruption can endanger both the mother’s and the baby’s lives.

HELLP syndrome- Hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells), high liver enzymes, and low platelet count are collectively referred to as HELLP. Multiple organ systems are affected by this severe form of preeclampsia. Both the mother and the child are at risk of death from HELLP syndrome, and the mother may experience lifelong health issues as a result. symptoms include headache, upper right abdominal pain, nausea, and a general feeling of illness or being under the weather. It can manifest suddenly, even before high blood pressure is noticed, and without any symptoms.

Damage to other organs- Preeclampsia can harm the kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or eyes. It may lead to a stroke or other brain injuries. Depending on how severe the preeclampsia is, other organs may sustain varying degrees of damage.

Cardiovascular illness. Your chance of developing future heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) illnesses may increase if you have preeclampsia. If you have a history of preeclampsia or have given birth prematurely, your risk is even higher.

Preeclampsia Prevention

A pregnant woman can take a number of measures to reduce some of the risk factors for high blood pressure, even if preeclampsia cannot entirely be avoided, 

These may consist of:

  • Consuming at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day
  • Avoiding meals that are fried or excessively processed
  • Less salt consumption
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Regular exercising as prescribed by the doctor
  • Keeping your feet up a few times each day
  • Resting

These actions may lower the risk of preeclampsia and assist in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Pregnant women should heed their doctor’s recommendations on exercise and diet.


Maintaining the best health for both you and your unborn child is crucial during pregnancy. This entails following a balanced diet, taking folic acid-fortified prenatal vitamins, and scheduling routine prenatal care checks.

Preeclampsia, however, can occasionally develop during pregnancy or after delivery even with careful treatment. Preeclampsia poses a risk to both you and your unborn child.

Preeclampsia is a dangerous illness that you might not even be aware of having. It’s crucial to keep all of your prenatal visits and to be honest about all of your pregnancy symptoms. Preeclampsia can be treated and controlled if it is discovered early enough to keep both the mother and the unborn child safe and healthy. Preeclampsia patients typically have healthy pregnancies.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Exclusive content

Latest article

More article