Signs of preeclampsia in a pregnant woman include:
- Blood pressure of 140/90
- Systolic blood pressure that rises by 30 mm Hg or more even it if is less than 140. (This is the highest level of blood pressure during the heart's pumping cycle.)
- Diastolic blood pressure that rises by 15 mm Hg or more even if it is less than 90. (This is the lowest level of blood pressure during the heart's pumping cycle.)
- Swelling in the face or hands
- High levels of albumin in the urine
In its milder forms, it may appear as borderline high blood pressure, swelling or water retention that doesn't respond to treatment or albumin in the urine.
Pregnant women who have blood pressure of 150/110, marked swelling or water retention and high levels of albumin in their urine may also experience disturbances in their sight or have pain in the abdomen. Their reflexes may be hypersensitive.
Causes and Risk Factors
It is not known what causes these conditions. Preeclampsia develops in about 5% of pregnant women. These women are usually having their first baby or had high blood pressure or vascular disease before they became pregnant.
If preeclampsia isn't treated it may suddenly turn into eclampsia. Eclampsia can be fatal without treatment. One complication of preeclampsia is a condition where the placenta detaches too early from the wall of the uterus (abruptio placentae).