Alexandra Pellicena, MD, FACOG
OB-GYN located in Houston, TX
The single most life-saving measure an OB/GYN can take on her patients’ behalf is educating them on the signs and symptoms of life-threatening conditions like preeclampsia. If you’re pregnant and begin noticing double vision, swelling or edema that doesn’t resolve with elevation and rest, and headaches, contact Dr. Pellicena immediately to be screened for preeclampsia. Dr. Pellicena has successfully overseen hundreds of high-risk pregnancies in her self-named Houston, Texas clinic.
Preeclampsia Q & A
What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a life-threatening condition affecting some pregnant women, characterized by consistently high blood pressure following the 20th week of pregnancy, in combination with either protein in the urine or a decrease in blood platelets, visual disturbances, or fluid in the lungs.
What are the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is often characterized by swelling in your hands and face that is not alleviated by rest, a headache that doesn't seem to go away, pain in your upper abdomen, visual disturbances, sudden weight gain, vomiting, nausea, and difficulty breathing.
If you're experiencing any of those signs and symptoms, contact your doctor immediately for further evaluation and treatment.
What are the most common causes of preeclampsia?
While the causes of preeclampsia are unknown, researchers do know that some women are more likely to get preeclampsia than others. Those who are at higher risk include those who:
- Are pregnant with their first child
- Have a personal or family history of preeclampsia
- Are over age 40
- Have a history of chronic hypertension
- Are carrying more than one baby, are obese
- Suffer from lupus, thrombophilia, or diabetes
Additionally, women who became pregnant through in vitro fertilization are at higher risk of developing preeclampsia during their pregnancy.
If several of these risk factors apply to you, visit with your doctor about your risk. They can help you determine which steps you can take to decrease your risk and what signs and symptoms you should watch for throughout your pregnancy.
What are the risks of untreated preeclampsia?
Both you and your baby are at risk if you develop preeclampsia during your pregnancy, even if you seek treatment right away. The most common risk to the baby is preterm delivery.
If you develop preeclampsia, your baby may need to be delivered early. Additionally, preeclampsia puts you at higher risk of seizures and HELLP syndrome.
It also increases your risk of developing preeclampsia again in the future and puts you at higher risk of developing:
- Heart attacks
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Strokes later in life
How is preeclampsia treated?
If you have preeclampsia, you will most likely be admitted to the hospital where your OB/GYN can closely observe you. In severe preeclampsia not controlled by medications, delivery may be induced for both your safety and the safety of your unborn child.