Pre-eclampsia

(Toxemia of Pregnancy; Pregnancy-induced Hypertension; Preeclampsia)

Definition

Pre-eclampsia is a problem that occurs in some women during pregnancy. Blood pressure increases and protein appears in the urine. This usually occurs during the second half of pregnancy.
Cardiovascular System and Kidneys
Woman with BP
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Causes

The cause of pre-eclampsia is unknown.

Risk Factors

Pre-eclampsia is more common in African-American women over, and in women aged 40 years and older. Factors that may increase your chance of getting pre-eclampsia include:
  • Pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • First pregnancy
  • Family history, such as a mother and sister who also had the condition
  • Carrying multiple babies such as twins
  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight or obese
  • Sleep-disordered breathing—abnormal breathing during sleep ranging from snoring to sleep apnea
  • History of polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome

Symptoms

Women with pre-eclampsia may have no symptoms. It is important to see your doctor regularly during pregnancy to detect problems early.In women with symptoms, pre-eclampsia may cause:
  • Headaches
  • Bloating or water retention
  • Noticeably swollen ankles or feet, outside of normal swelling that occurs during pregnancy
  • Swelling of the face and upper body
  • Vision troubles
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Urinating less

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