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Eclampsia (cont.)

When to seek medical care for eclampsia

  • If a pregnant woman has questions regarding her health or that of her baby.
  • If a pregnant woman has severe or persistent headaches or any visual disturbance, such as double vision or seeing spots (This may be a harbinger of impending eclampsia).
  • If, during pregnancy, the blood pressure rises above 160/110 mm Hg.
  • If a pregnant woman has severe pain in the middle of their abdomen or on the right side of the abdomen under the rib cage. (This may indicate swelling and possible rupture of the liver).
  • If there is any unusual bruising or bleeding during pregnancy.
  • If there is excessive swelling or weight gain during pregnancy.
  • If there has been a marked decrease in fetal activity.
  • If increasing vaginal bleeding or severe abdominal cramping is noted during pregnancy.

Is there a test to diagnose eclampsia?

If any of the previously mentioned symptoms are experienced, a health-care professional should be notified immediately.  If home blood pressure monitoring is being performed, the readings, if elevated, should be reported to the doctor.  It is likely that a visit to the doctor's office or the hospital may be necessary.

  • All signs, symptoms, and concerns should be reported to the health-care professional. Blood pressure, weight, and urine protein will be determined at every prenatal visit.
  • If a health-care professional suspects the possibility of preeclampsia, they will order blood tests to check a platelet count, as well as liver and kidney function. The health-care professional may order a 24-hour urine collection to check for total protein in the voided specimen. The results of the blood tests should be available within 24 hours (if sent to an outside laboratory), or within several hours if performed at a hospital.
  • The well-being of your baby should be checked by monitoring the rate and rhythm of the fetal heart.
  • Further evaluations of fetal well-being may include non-stress testing, a biophysical profile (ultrasound), and an ultrasound to measure the growth of the baby (if it has not been done within the previous 2-3 weeks).
  • Ancillary studies may include ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI scan of the maternal head to rule out a stroke.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/11/2016

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Preeclampsia is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy associated with proteinuria with or without edema.

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