World Preeclampsia Day: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention
World Preeclampsia Day: The goal of World Preeclampsia Day is to increase public awareness of the blood pressure disorder that affects pregnant women worldwide and results in more than 70,000 maternal and 500,000 foetal fatalities annually.
The goal of this year’s celebration’s theme, “Move Preeclampsia Research Forward,” is to advance the preeclampsia treatments now which start immediately after birth.
World Preeclampsia Day: Preeclampsia, one of the main causes of premature births, affects between 5 and 8% of pregnancies in the U.S. Preeclampsia’s current management centres on keeping an eye on blood pressure and controlling the symptoms until labour and delivery.
Studies have indicated that women who experienced preeclampsia during pregnancy run the risk of acquiring persistent high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders within 20 years of giving birth.
Preeclampsia not only affects the health of the mother, but also has a significant impact on the growth and development of the foetus, increasing the risk of low birth weight in children as it prevents the foetus from receiving enough blood, oxygen, and nutrition. It can result in breathing difficulties, vision and hearing problems, and cerebral palsy in children. Children born to mothers with preeclampsia are also more likely to develop heart and circulatory conditions.
Signs of Preeclampsia at 32 weeks
Pre-eclampsia often develops after week 20 of pregnancy. However, in some circumstances, it can be detected early through the following signs:
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Swelling of hands, face, feet, and ankles
- High blood pressure-systolic pressure above 140 mm Hg or diastolic pressure above 90 mm Hg
- Protein in urine
- Fluid in the lungs
- Low blood platelet count
- Vision disturbances
What is the difference between eclampsia and preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia and eclampsia are high blood pressure conditions associated with pregnancy; in preeclampsia, the mother’s high blood pressure decreases the blood flow to the foetus, which may result in the foetus receiving less oxygen and nutrients; and in eclampsia, the pregnant woman has seizures or coma.
Causes of preeclampsia
There may be various contributing variables to the precise aetiology of preeclampsia. The organ that feeds the foetus during pregnancy, the placenta, is where experts think it starts. To provide the placenta with oxygen and nutrients early in a pregnancy, new blood vessels grow and change.
These blood vessels don’t appear to form or function normally in preeclampsia patients. The mother’s blood pressure may not be controlled properly if there are issues with blood flow within the placenta.
Risk factors for Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is moderately risky for those with the following conditions:
- Maternal age of 35 or older
- Complications in a previous pregnancy
- More than 10 years since previous pregnancy
- First pregnancy with current partner
- Family history of preeclampsia
The following conditions have been related to an increased risk of preeclampsia:
- Type 1 or type 2 diabetes before pregnancy
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Use of in vitro fertilization
- Preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
- Being pregnant with more than one baby
- Chronic high blood pressure (hypertension)
How does preeclampsia affect the baby?
Preterm birth: Preeclampsia can cause an unanticipated premature birth (birth before 37 weeks). Preeclampsia is also treated with intentional premature birth. A preterm infant is more likely to have respiratory and eating problems visual or hearing abnormalities, developmental delays, and cerebral palsy. Some dangers may be reduced if treatments are administered prior to premature birth.
Fetal growth retardation: Preeclampsia causes problems with the arteries that deliver blood to the placenta. If the placenta does not get enough blood, the infant may receive insufficient blood, oxygen, and nutrients. This can result in foetal growth restriction, or delayed development.
HELLP: HELLP stands for hemolysis (red blood cell destruction), elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. This severe type of preeclampsia has an impact on several organ systems. HELLP syndrome is life-threatening for both the mother and the infant, and it can lead to long-term health problems for the mother.
Signs and symptoms include nausea and vomiting, headache, upper right belly pain, and a general feeling of illness or being unwell. Sometimes, it develops suddenly, even before high blood pressure is detected. It also may develop without any symptoms.
Placenta Abruption: Preeclampsia raises your chances of having a placental abruption. The placenta separates from the uterine inner wall before birth in this situation. Severe abruption can result in significant bleeding, which can be fatal for both the mother and the infant.
How quickly can preeclampsia developed?
Preeclampsia can occur as early as 20 weeks of pregnancy, however this is uncommon. Symptoms usually appear after 34 weeks. Symptoms appear after birth in a few cases, generally within 48 hours of delivery. They usually go away on their own.
Preeclampsia Blood Pressure
The following are symptoms of preeclampsia in a pregnant woman: Blood pressure of 140/90. Systolic blood pressure that increases by 30 mm Hg or more, even if it is less than 140. (This is the greatest level of blood pressure throughout the heart’s pumping cycle.)
How to prevent preeclampsia
The precise aetiology of preeclampsia is unknown. It is assumed to be caused by poor placental function, such as inadequate blood flow to the placenta. Other risk factors include excessive fat and poor diet, immune function abnormalities, genetic concerns, and a family history.
There is currently no guaranteed way to prevent preeclampsia. Some risk factors for high blood pressure can be managed, while others cannot. Follow your doctor’s diet and exercise recommendations.
- Get enough rest
- Exercise regularly
- Elevate your feet several times during the day
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid beverages containing caffeine
- Your doctor may suggest you take the prescribed medicine and additional supplements
Pre-eclampsia is easily detected during your pregnancy’s regular examinations.
Your blood pressure is frequently examined for symptoms of high blood pressure during these prenatal checkups, and a urine sample is analysed to see whether it contains protein.
If you have any of the symptoms of pre-eclampsia between pregnancy checkups, consult your midwife or gynaecologist.
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force exerted by blood on the walls of arteries (main blood vessels) as it travels through them.
It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is represented by two figures:
Systolic pressure is the pressure created by the heart when it beats and squeezes blood out.
Diastolic pressure is the pressure that exists while the heart is at rest between beats.
A sphygmomanometer (a device having an inflated cuff and a scale as a pressure gauge) will be used by your doctor or midwife to test your blood pressure.
The systolic reading is obtained first, then the diastolic reading.
If your systolic blood pressure is 120mmHg and your diastolic blood pressure is 80mmHg, your total blood pressure will be 120 over 80, often written as 120/80.
A systolic blood pressure of 140mmHg or higher, or a diastolic blood pressure of 90mmHg or higher, is considered high blood pressure during pregnancy.
In order to rule out pre-eclampsia, your doctor may suggest a blood test if you are between 20 and 35 weeks pregnant and they suspect you may have the condition.
Placental growth factor (PIGF) is a protein whose levels are measured. The likelihood that you do not have pre-eclampsia increases if your PIGF levels are high.
Although more tests are required to establish the diagnosis, low PIGF levels may be a symptom of pre-eclampsia.
Every prenatal checkup normally includes a request for a urine sample. Using a dipstick, it is simple to check for protein in this.
A dipstick is a piece of paper that has undergone chemical treatment to make it react to protein by typically changing colour.
Your doctor or midwife might request another urine sample to be taken to a lab for further testing if the protein dipstick results are positive.