Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
The various changes and symptoms that occur with preeclampsia vary according
to the organ system or systems that are affected. These changes can affect the
mother only, baby only, or more commonly affect both mother and baby. Some of
these symptoms give the woman warning signs, but most do not.
The most common symptom and hallmark of preeclampsia is high blood
pressure. This may be the first or only symptom. Blood pressure may be only
minimally elevated initially, or can be dangerously high; symptoms may or may not
be present. However, the degree of blood pressure elevation varies from woman to
woman and also varies during the development and resolution of the disease
process. There are also some women who never have significant blood pressure
The kidneys are unable to efficiently filter the blood (as they normally
do). This may cause an increase in protein to be present in the urine. The first
sign of excess protein is commonly seen on a urine sample obtained in the
health care professional's office. Rarely does a woman note any changes or symptoms associated
with excess protein in the urine. In extreme cases affecting the kidneys, the
amount of urine produced decreases greatly.
Swelling of the hands, or of the face
Rapid weight gain over a few days (more than 2 pounds a week)
Nervous system changes can include blurred vision,
seeing spots, severe headaches, convulsions, and even occasionally blindness.
Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention.
Changes that affect the liver can cause pain in the
upper part of the abdomen and may be confused with
disease. Other more subtle changes that affect the liver can affect the
ability of the platelets to cause
blood to clot; these changes may be seen as
Changes that can affect the baby can result from problems with blood flow
to the placenta, and therefore, the baby does not receive proper nutrients. As a
result, the baby may not grow properly and may be smaller than expected, or
worse the baby will appear sluggish or seem to decrease the frequency and
intensity of its movements. Call the doctor immediately if the baby's movements