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Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy (cont.)

Symptoms

High blood pressure

If you have developed high blood pressure, you will probably not have any symptoms. It usually requires a blood pressure check with a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope to detect elevated blood pressure.

Blood pressure measured at 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher is classified as high (hypertensive) and 160/110 mm Hg or higher is classified as severe.

Preeclampsia

Symptoms of preeclampsia can develop gradually or suddenly. Symptoms include:

  • Systolic blood pressure is over 140 mm Hg, or diastolic blood pressure is over 90 mm Hg, or both, for two measurements taken at least 6 hours apart.
  • Protein in the urine is usually higher than normal. High urine protein is 300 milligrams (mg) measured in 24 hours or protein consistently showing 1+ or greater on a dipstick.

Although you may have other symptoms, you will not be diagnosed with preeclampsia unless you also have high blood pressure or high protein in your urine. Other symptoms of mild preeclampsia may include:

  • Swelling of the hands and face that does not go away during the day. (If you have no other signs or symptoms of preeclampsia, this swelling is probably a sign of normal pregnancy.)
  • Rapid weight gain [more than 2 lb (0.9 kg) per week or 6 lb (2.7 kg) per month].
  • Bleeding from a cut or injury that lasts longer than usual.

Severe preeclampsia

In severe preeclampsia, systolic blood pressure is over 160 mm Hg, or diastolic blood pressure is over 110 mm Hg, or both.

As blood circulation to the organs decreases, more severe symptoms can develop, including:

  • A severe headache that will not go away with medicine such as acetaminophen.
  • Blurred or dimming vision, spots in the visual field, or periods of blindness.
  • Decreased urination [less than 2 cups (500 mL) in 24 hours].
  • Persistent abdominal pain or tenderness, especially on the upper right side.
  • Problems breathing, especially when lying flat.
  • HELLP syndrome.

HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening liver disorder. It is usually related to preeclampsia. Get emergency medical treatment if you have several symptoms of HELLP syndrome. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the upper right abdomen (liver).
  • Shoulder, neck, and other upper body pain (this pain also originates in the liver).
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Vision problems.

HELLP is short for Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells), Elevated Liver enzymes (which indicate liver damage), and Low Platelet count.

Severe preeclampsia increases the risk of seizures (eclampsia).

Eclampsia

When preeclampsia leads to seizures that are not from any other cause, it is called eclampsia. Eclampsia is life-threatening for both a mother and her fetus. During a seizure, the oxygen supply to the fetus is drastically reduced. Call any time a pregnant woman has a seizure.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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