Assessing the Onset of Pre-Eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia can occur anywhere between the 20th week of gestation to 4-6 weeks’ postpartum. It can be defined as a clinical condition of hypertension and proteinuria. If you think you may be suffering from pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention.

Read on to find out what to be on the lookout for.

Symptoms

The following symptoms are an indication of severe preeclampsia:

  • Even when the patient is resting and relatively inactive, their SBP and DBP values are 160 mm Hg and 110 mm Hg, respectively
  • The liver function becomes impaired while the patient experiences severe persistent epigastric pain, which is unresponsive to pharmacotherapy.
  • The renal system is progressively becoming insufficient
  • Disruption in vision
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Platelet count falls below <100,000/μL

Diagnosis

In order to diagnose a patient with preeclampsia, a healthcare provider will check their blood pressure and urine. Elevated blood pressures with the presence of protein in the urine are two of the most common indications of this condition. The second symptom, however, might not be present in every case.

High blood pressure

The usual reading for blood pressure that is considered high includes a diastolic one of 90 or higher or a systolic reading of 140 or greater. The healthcare provider will check the patient’s blood pressure multiple times in a day because the values can fluctuate. Consistently high blood pressure is a sign of concern.

Protein in urine

The urine sample of the patient will be tested for protein. Again, the test might be performed multiple times during 24 hours to ensure the results of the initial screening were correct. If the values show an amount of 300 mg or more of protein within 24 hours, then it is likely that the patient might have preeclampsia.

Protein-Creatinine ratio

While the test mentioned above is the most accurate test for protein in urine, another urine test is used to determine preeclampsia. The protein-creatinine ratio is done on a random sample. This makes it relatively easier for the patient to undergo than the 24-hour urine test. At times, this test may also be substituted for the former one. Values that show Creatinine levels as high as 0.3 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) can be taken as an indication of preeclampsia. Creatinine is a waste product that is normally filtered out by our kidneys.

Causes

It is believed that most cases of preeclampsia only become evident later while starting earlier during pregnancy. The condition is caused by reduced placental blood flow. The reasons behind the reduction of the blood flow include improper planting of the placenta in the uterine lining. This can keep the arteries in that area from dilating properly. The result is placenta gets less blood. Chronic hypertension and diabetes can also reduce the flow of blood to the placenta.

When the blood flow to the placenta undergoes a change, it could trigger the release of certain placental proteins into the blood. Those proteins start a chain of reactions that lead to:

  • High blood pressure due to constricted blood vessels
  • Swelling and other kinds of damage to the vessel walls
  • Lower blood volume
  • Changes in how fast blood clots

It is yet to be understood why certain women will experience this condition during pregnancy and others don’t. It is thought that different factors might play a role, including the diet, genetics, diseases underlying this condition, reaction of the mother’s immune system to pregnancy, etc.

Prevention

The best thing to prevent pre-eclampsia from becoming a possibility is to arrange to receive good prenatal care during pregnancy. Do not take missing appointments lightly and always get blood pressure and urine tested during check-ups. It is equally important to learn to recognise the symptoms of this condition and arrange for immediate medical attention!

Hi! Natural Birth and Motherhood is about empowering women who are going through the stages of pregnancy, birth, or motherhood.  Find out more useful information on related topics by clicking on the button below.

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