According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, preeclampsia is defined as a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage, often the kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy with a sudden onset of high blood pressure, and if untreated can be fatal to both mother and baby. Monitoring your blood pressure is an important component of prenatal care, and blood pressure representing 140/90 millimeter of mercury or greater, documented on two occasions, at least four hours apart is considered abnormal.
Other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:
-Excess protein in urine
-Changes in vision, including temporary loss, blurred vision, or light sensitivity
-Nausea or vomiting
-Decreased frequency in urination
-Decreased blood platelet levels
-Impaired liver function
-Shortness of breath caused by fluid in the lungs
Risk factors for developing preeclampsia include:
-A personal or family history of preeclampsia
-First pregnancy poses a higher risk
-New paternity as each pregnancy with a new partner increases risk
-Multiple pregnancy, if you are carrying twins, triplets, etc.
-Pregnancy intervals, having children less than two years apart or greater than ten years apart
-Certain health conditions prior to pregnancy such as: chronic high blood pressure, migraine headaches, diabetes, kidney disease, blood clots, or lupus
If preeclampsia is detected early you and your healthcare professional can collaboratively prevent complications to produce safe and healthy outcomes for you and your baby, so make sure to discuss additional questions and concerns with your doctor. Your healthcare provider can provide professional and specific advice on how to improve upon your health during pregnancy and post-delivery.
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