Understanding preeclampsia risk, prevention and management

Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy-related condition characterized by high blood pressure and damage to multiple organs, including liver, kidneys and brain. It typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can lead to serious complications for both the mother and the baby, and can even be fatal if left untreated. It is important for pregnant women to know about preeclampsia because early recognition and treatment can greatly improve outcomes for both the mother and baby. 

Symptoms of preeclampsia include high blood pressure, protein in urine (proteinuria), swelling of face, hands, and feet (edema), severe headache, changes in vision, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion or changes in mental status, and sudden weight gain. It's important to note that the majority of women with preeclampsia have no symptoms and the disease can progress quickly. Therefore, it is essential for pregnant women to have regular prenatal care to diagnose and manage this condition.

Preeclampsia can pose significant risks for pregnant women and their unborn babies. These include preterm (early) delivery, low birth weight, placental abruption (separation of placenta from the uterine wall), stroke, kidney and liver damage with potentially long-lasting effects, preeclampsia-induced HELLP syndrome (serious complication affecting liver), and postpartum complications.

Preeclampsia during pregnancy has also been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. Research has shown that women who have had preeclampsia have a higher risk of developing conditions such as chronic high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease (including heart attack and heart failure).

Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious complications. Treatment includes medications to control blood pressure and close monitoring of both the mother and the baby. In some cases, delivery may be necessary to protect the health of the mother and the baby. It’s important for women to be aware of the symptoms of preeclampsia and to seek prompt medical attention if they experience any warning signs. With proper treatment, many women and their babies can experience a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Therefore, it is important to have regular prenatal care, including blood pressure checks, to detect any changes and address them promptly. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and getting regular exercise can also help reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia. It's important for women who have had preeclampsia to be vigilant about monitoring their cardiovascular health, following a healthy lifestyle and seeking regular medical care. By working with their primary care physician or cardiologist, they can identify and address any cardiovascular risk factors and take steps to prevent or manage these conditions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.


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Dr. Parham Eshtehardi

Specialties: Cardiology, Noninvasive Cardiology

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Dr. Eshtehardi is a dedicated cardiologist with expertise in preventive cardiology, coronary artery disease, microvascular (small vessel) disease, angina, cardio-obstetrics and cardiovascular imaging. He has published numerous articles in top-tier scientific journals and received several scholarships, distinguished awards and honors for his contributions to the field of cardiovascular medicine. 

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