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Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Risk factors for developing preeclampsia during pregnancy include:

  • Chronic (ongoing) high blood pressure (hypertension), chronic kidney disease, or diabetes.
  • High blood pressure in a past pregnancy, especially before week 34.
  • Personal history of preeclampsia.
  • Family history of preeclampsia.
  • Obesity (more than 20% over ideal weight) at the time of conception. If your weight is within this range, the higher your prepregnancy body mass index, the greater your preeclampsia risk.5
  • Multiple pregnancy (such as twins or triplets).
  • First pregnancy ever or first-time pregnancy with current partner.
  • Age younger than 21 or older than 35.

When To Call a Doctor


If you have preeclampsia, it is possible that you will have an unexpected seizure (eclampsia). Eclampsia can lead to a coma and is life-threatening to both you and your fetus.

Someone must callor other emergency services immediately if you are having an eclamptic seizure.

If you are pregnant and have preeclampsia, your family and friends should know how to help during a seizure.

Seek medical care immediately if you are pregnant and begin to have symptoms of preeclampsia, such as:

  • Blurred vision or other vision problems.
  • Frequent headaches that are becoming worse or a persistent headache that does not respond to nonprescription pain medicine.
  • Pain or tenderness in your abdomen, especially in the upper right section.
  • Weight gain of 2 lb (0.9 kg) or more over a 24-hour period.
  • Shoulder, neck, and other upper body pain (this pain originates in the liver).

If you have mild high blood pressure or mild preeclampsia, you may not have any symptoms. It is important to see a health professional regularly throughout your pregnancy. Your blood pressure will be checked and your urine will be tested at every visit so that any abnormal rise in blood pressure or urinary protein can be easily detected.

Watchful Waiting

Symptoms such as heartburn or swelling in the legs and feet are normal during pregnancy and are not usually symptoms of preeclampsia. You can discuss these symptoms with your doctor or nurse-midwife at your next scheduled prenatal visit. But if swelling occurs along with other symptoms of preeclampsia, contact your doctor immediately.

Who To See

If you have developed high blood pressure and preeclampsia during pregnancy, you can be treated by:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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