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Preeclampsia (cont.)

What medications treat preeclampsia?

Patient Comments
  • The patient may require medication to treat her high blood pressure during labor or after delivery. It is unusual to require medication for high blood pressure after six weeks following delivery (unless the patient has a problem with high blood pressure that is unrelated to pregnancy).
  • Most likely, during labor (and for a while after delivery) the patient will be given a medication called magnesium sulfate. This is to decrease the chances of the patient having a seizure; in addition magnesium is indicated for severe preeclampsia and in treatment of eclamptic seizures (IV magnesium sulfate).
  • If the baby is very premature (less than 34 weeks), the patient may be given a medication called betamethasone to help mature the baby's lungs.
  • Medications such as oxytocin (Pitocin) or prostaglandins are given to induce labor and/or ripen the cervix.

What is the aftercare for preeclampsia?

Just as there were no tests to predict or prevent preeclampsia, there are no tests to predict whether preeclampsia will recur in a subsequent pregnancy. Unfortunately, in a small number of women, preeclampsia will recur. This chance seems to increase if preeclampsia was particularly severe or occurred very early in pregnancy (late second trimester or early third trimester). Although, there are no tests to predict this occurring, the patient should be monitored more closely during a subsequent pregnancy.

What is the prognosis for a woman with preeclampsia?

Most women will have positive outcomes for their pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia. Some women will continue to have problems with their blood pressure, and will need to be monitored closely after delivery.

Most babies do well. Babies born prematurely usually stay in the hospital longer. A rule of thumb is to expect the baby to stay in the hospital until his or her due date.

Unfortunately, a few women and babies experience life-threatening complications from preeclampsia.

Eclampsia (tonic-clonic seizures or coma during pregnancy or postpartum) is an infrequent complication but it has a mortality (death) rate of about 2% and may severely damage the fetus.

A woman who had preeclampsia near term in one pregnancy has a risk of about 10% for developing preeclampsia in a subsequent pregnancy. Those who had severe preeclampsia have about a 20% risk of preeclampsia in subsequent pregnancies. A second pregnancy with the same father reduced the incidence of preeclampsia, while a subsequent pregnancy with a different father may increase the risk of having preeclampsia again.

Having preeclampsia during pregnancy can also increase a woman's chances of having high blood pressure later in life. Research has shown that women who had preeclampsia have a 4-fold greater risk of having hypertension later in life than women who did not have preeclampsia. A woman's risk of stroke later in life is also twice as high if she had preeclampsia.

REFERENCE: American Heart Association. Preeclampsia doubles women's stroke risk, quadruples high blood pressure risk. Feb 16, 2014.<>

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/7/2015

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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Preeclampsia:

Preeclampsia - Experience

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Preeclampsia - Treatment Medications

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Preeclampsia - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Preeclampsia »

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

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