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Signs and symptoms of Preeclampsia

by Randy Shannon

posted on behalf of Dr. Jeremy Bell, DO

Preeclampsia is a condition that can develop after 20 weeks of pregnancy. You may be diagnosed with preeclampsia if you have high blood pressure, generalized swelling and excess protein in your urine. Physicians use a cutoff blood pressure reading of 140/90 for mild preeclampsia and 160/110 for severe preeclampsia. 

If preeclampsia becomes severe you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Visual changes – including double vision, blurriness, seeing spots or flashing lights, light sensitivity or temporary loss of vision
  • Upper right abdominal pain
  • Seizures caused by eclampsia

Severe preeclampsia can affect the placenta and cause placental abruption, which causes vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. It can also cause decreased blood flow and oxygen delivery to the fetus leading to fetal growth restriction.

If you have high blood pressure it can be treated with medications, but delivery is really the only cure. Your doctor may decide to move toward delivery if you are beyond 34 weeks with severe preeclampsia and beyond 37 weeks with mild preeclampsia. Talk with your health care provider to learn more about preeclampsia and what you should do if you are diagnosed with it. 

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Pregnant women photo by mahalie stackpole from seattle, USA (pregnant profile III) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons