Preeclampsia: The Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Preeclampsia is a condition that causes high blood pressure and protein build-up in the urine. It usually occurs during late pregnancy, although it can occur earlier than 20 weeks in rare cases. If left unchecked, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition that causes seizures and organ failure. Even when it doesn’t lead to eclampsia, the condition can be dangerous enough, possibly causing strokes and kidney failure. Delivering your baby is the only way to cure preeclampsia, and even then, the effects can linger for weeks or months.
Pregnant woman

Preeclampsia Risk Factors

While certain factors can increase the likelihood of developing preeclampsia, it is important to note that simply being pregnant puts you at risk for the condition. Don’t assume that you can skip monitoring yourself for signs of the condition just because you don’t fall into any of the below categories.You may be at a higher risk for developing the condition if you are:
•Over age 35
•A first-time mom
•Pregnant with more than one baby
•Overweight, especially if you are obese. Being overweight already increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, and that may come into play with increases your risk of preeclampsia.
•Diagnosed with diabetes or have a past medical history of high blood pressure.

Early Warning Signs of Preeclampsia

Catching preeclampsia as early as possible is the best way to prevent further complications. Unfortunately, many women do not even feel slightly ill during the early stages. However, there are a few early warning signs of the condition.These include:•Swelling, especially that of the hands and face. Some swelling in your legs and feet is normal during pregnancy, but if you suddenly go up two shoe sizes and can’t walk without pain, contact your doctor.•Gaining more than two pounds a week, especially if you’re eating healthy.•Rapidly gaining weight in a very short period of time. For example, if you go from 140 to 150 overnight, something is wrong.•Elevated blood pressure, usually higher than 140/90.

•Protein in your urine. Urine should not have any protein in it, and its appearance suggests a problem in the kidneys.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention if You have These Signs:

•Unexplainable pain in your abdomen or rib cage area.

•A pounding headache that won’t let up.

•Difficulty seeing due to blurred vision or other visual disturbances.

•A lower than normal urge to urinate, or a decrease in the amount of urine that comes out when you do have to go.

• Vomiting, especially severe vomiting that doesn’t let up even after your stomach is empty.

Your doctor will monitor you for preeclampsia throughout your pregnancy. It is one of the reasons that the nurse takes your blood pressure and checks your urine sample at every single visit. However, if you are concerned that you could be developing the condition between visits, call your doctor right away.