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Preeclampsia (cont.)

What kind of doctor treats preeclampsia?

An obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) who provides prenatal care may also treat a woman with preeclampsia. In some case a high-risk OB-GYN specialist may be consulted. Some health-care professionals who care for pregnant women may treat preeclampsia.

When should I seek medical care for preeclampsia?

Seek medical care if you are pregnant and you:

  • Have any questions about either your health or your baby's health
  • Have a severe or persistent headache or any visual disturbance (such as double vision or seeing spots)
  • Have severe pain in the middle of your belly or on the right side of your belly under your ribs
  • Notice any unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Notice excessive swelling or weight gain
  • Your baby has decreased its movements
  • Have any vaginal bleeding or cramping

Elevated blood pressure is the usual finding that indicates mild preeclampsia, and is considered to occur when the blood pressure is equal to 140/90 on two measurements, at least six hours apart without any evidence of organ damage.

Markedly elevated blood pressure often exists with severe preeclampsia, and is considered to occur when blood pressure measures at or above 160/110 twice, at least six hours between measurements; also there are other criteria that suggest severe preeclampsia (for example, pulmonary edema, severe proteinuria, oliguria (decreased urine flow), liver damage, and others).

How is preeclampsia diagnosed?

If a woman experiences any of the above symptoms call the health care practitioner immediately and expect to go to the office or hospital. If the patient has their own blood pressure device at home, report this reading to the physician. However, do not substitute a home blood pressure reading for a physician visit.

  • Be sure to review all of symptoms and concerns with your health care professional. The health care professional should check the patient's blood pressure, weight, and urine at every office visit.
  • If the health care professional suspects that the patient has preeclampsia, he or she will order blood tests to check the platelet count, liver function, and kidney function. They will also check a urine sample in the office or possibly order a 24-hour urine collection to check for protein in the urine. These results of the blood tests should be available within 24 hours (if sent out), or within several hours if performed at a hospital.
  • The well-being of the baby should be checked by placing the patient on a fetal monitor. Further tests may include nonstress testing, 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).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/7/2015

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Preeclampsia »

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific syndrome characterized by new-onset hypertension and proteinuria, occurring usually after 20 weeks' gestation.

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