Association of Cameroonian Physicians in the Americas

    Preeclampsia: What is it (part 2)

     What can cause preeclampsia?​

    Several things can increase your chances of having preeclampsia such as a prior history of preeclampsia, family history of preeclampsia, obesity, being older than 35 years, first pregnancy, being pregnant with multiple babies at the same time, having a history of diabetes, autoimmune diseases, kidney disease, high blood pressure, or waiting more than 10 years to have another baby since your last one.

    Types of medicine used to treat preeclampsia

    Medications that can be used to lower your blood pressure include Labetalol, Nifedipine, Hydralazine, and Methyldopa. If severe preeclampsia or eclampsia (preeclampsia complicated by seizures) is present then IV magnesium is used.

    Complications of preeclampsia

    Complications of preeclampsia include eclampsia (seizures and/or coma) and HELLP (Hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets) syndrome, both of which cause damage to other organs such as the liver, the kidney, the brain and can also cause your fetus to have poor growth

    How long does preeclampsia take to go away

    Preeclampsia usually resolves after delivery of the placenta but can last for a few days after. In certain cases, even after delivery, the symptoms are still present and the risk of complications may remain. It can be associated with an increased long-term risk of developing diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and strokes.

    Take home points:

    •  Monitor and record your blood pressure closely when you are pregnant and if higher than the numbers above, let your doctor know promptly. 
    • Get routine blood work as recommended when you are pregnant; make sure that your liver and kidneys are working properly and that your blood is clotting properly if you are diagnosed with elevated blood pressures during a pregnancy.
    • Get your fetal ultrasound done to make sure that your baby is growing properly.
    •  Avoid excessive salt and water intake when pregnant as this will increase your blood pressure.
    • Know the warning signs listed above and contact your doctor if they are present.
    • Go for your prenatal checkups and see your doctor regularly. If you don't have an Ob/Gyn, there are several well qualified Ob/Gyns that are members of ACPA. Go to the ACPA webpage for contact information if you want to be put in contact with them.
    •  Remember you are the number one advocate for yourself and your baby, so don't panic.

    Author: Shirley Ayuk-Takem, DO
    Reviewer: Efua B. Leke MD, MPH
    References: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

    10 quotes every enlightened physician should live ...
    Preeclampsia: What is it (part 1)


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