Pre eclampsia, which is also called toxemia, is a problem that occurs in some women during pregnancy. It manifests during the second half
of pregnancy. Affecting at least 5 percent of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure, swelling in the limbs or face, and protein in the urine. The high blood pressure can affect the brain, kidneys, liver, and lungs. If the woman develops seizures or coma, the condition is known as eclampsia.
Diagnosis includes a thorough study of medical history and record of blood pressure at regular intervals.
Urine tests to assess protein loss in the urine.
Complete blood count, or CBC, to look for abnormal blood cell counts.
Pregnancy ultrasound to check the age and condition of the fetus may be required.
Bed rest is essential. Delivery is the most preferred treatment if the fetus has grown enough to survive outside the womb. Careful monitoring of blood pressure, weight checks, and regular urine tests for protein will help timely treatment. The goal of treatment is to manage the condition until delivery (after 36 weeks of pregnancy) can be achieved.
Emergency delivery of the baby may be necessary if any of the following conditions occur:
- Destruction of red blood cells, known as hemolysis.
- Elevated levels in liver function tests.
- Falling platelet count.
- Pain in the right upper abdomen.
- Persistent and severe headache.
- Signs of kidney failure.
- Very high blood pressure for more than 24 hours
If delivery isn’t possible because it’s early pregnancy, steps should be taken to manage the pre eclampsia until the baby can be delivered. These steps include reducing the blood pressure with bed-rest or medicines, and monitoring the baby. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
Reducing daily salt intake helps in long term to reduce the blood pressure.
A caesarean section may be needed. Anticonvulsants may be used to prevent seizures.