Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
Physicians
Ebola: what you should know
Health Library
Back to Health Library   Print This Page Print    Email to a Friend Email

Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia


Definition:

Eclampsia is seizures (convulsions) in a pregnant woman that are not related to brain conditions.

See also: Preeclampsia



Alternative Names:

Toxemia with seizures



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

The cause of eclampsia is not well understood. Researchers believe the following may play a role:

  • Blood vessels
  • Brain and nervous system (neurological) factors
  • Diet
  • Genes

However, no theories have yet been proven.

Eclampsia follows preeclampsia , a serious complication of pregnancy that includes high blood pressure and excess and rapid weight gain.

It is difficult to predict which women with preeclampsia will go on to have seizures. Women at high risk for seizures have severe preeclampsia and:

  • Abnormal blood tests
  • Headaches
  • Very high blood pressure
  • Vision changes

Eclampsia occurs in about 1 out of every 2,000 to 3,000 pregnancies. The following increase a woman's chance for getting preeclampsia:

  • Being 35 or older
  • Being African American
  • First pregnancy
  • History of diabetes , high blood pressure, or kidney (renal ) disease
  • Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Teenage pregnancy


Symptoms:
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Seizures
  • Severe agitation
  • Unconsciousness

Symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Gaining more than 2 pounds per week
  • Headach
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling of the hands and face
  • Vision problems


Signs and tests:

The health care provider will do a physical exam and rule out other possible causes of seizures. Blood pressure and breathing rate will be checked and monitored.

Blood tests may be done to check:



Treatment:

If you have eclampsia your health care provider should carefully monitor you. Delivery is the treatment of choice for severe eclampsia. Delivering the baby relieves the condition. Prolonging the pregnancy can be dangerous to both you and your infant.

With careful monitoring, the goal is to manage severe cases until 32-34 weeks into the pregnancy, and mild cases until 36-37 weeks have passed. This helps reduce complications from premature delivery.

You may be given medicine to prevent seizures (anticonvulsant). Magnesium sulfate is a safe drug for both you and your baby. Your doctor may prescribe medication to lower high blood pressure, but you may have to deliver if your blood pressure stays high, even with medication.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Women in the United States rarely die from eclampsia. 



Complications:

There is a higher risk for separation of the placenta (placenta abruptio ) with preeclampsia or eclampsia. There may be complications for the baby due to premature delivery.



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider or go to the emergency room if you have any symptoms of eclampsia or preeclampsia. Emergency symptoms include seizures or decreased consciousness.



Prevention:

There is no known way to prevent eclampsia. However, it is important for all pregnant women to get early and ongoing medical care. This allows for the early diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as preeclampsia. Treating preeclampsia may prevent eclampsia.



References:

ACOG Practice Bulletin Committee. Diagnosis and management of preeclampsia and eclampsia. Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Jan;99(1):159-67.

Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL. Obstetrics - Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 4th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2002:974-983.




Review Date: 2/5/2008
Reviewed By: Peter Chen, M.D., Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Find What You Need

Events
Careers
Foundation
About Us
Contact
Directions
News
Social Media Agreement
Joint Notice
Web Privacy Policy
WDH Staff Portal

Centers & Services

Cancer Center
Cardiovascular Care
Joint Replacement
Women & Children's
Physician Offices
Other Services

Conditions & Treatments

Health Library

Support Services

Support Groups
Care-Van
Dental Center
Social Work
Food & Nutrition
Integrative Wellness
Spiritual Care
Concerns & Grievances
Homecare and Hospice

For Patients

Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Interpreter Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Record Request
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials

For Healthcare Professionals

Work and Life
Financial Well-Being
Career and Growth

The Wentworth-Douglass Health System includes:

 

Address

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100