As the name suggests Preeclampsia is a condition that pregnant women develop prior to eclampsia, if left undiagnosed it leads to eclampsia. Preeclampsia is marked by persistent hypertension during pregnancy, decreased blood platelets, and increased protein in urine. Women with preeclampsia who experience seizures are considered to have eclampsia.
Preeclampsia is one of the major causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, stillbirths and death of newborns in first week. It usually appears after 20th week of pregnancy in women who have not experienced high blood pressure before. However it is also known to resolve by 6th postpartum week. Few women don’t show the symptoms and therefore regular antenatal check-ups are recommended for pregnant women.
Incidences of Preeclampsia have increased over recent decades and in India its occurrence is 8-10%. The month of May is regarded as Preeclampsia Awareness month. Join in this awareness program and disseminate knowledge of preeclampsia with emphasis on early diagnosis, risk factors and prevention.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia: As mentioned in Webmd, high blood pressure and high protein in urine is accompanied by the following symptoms such as severe headaches, dizziness, reduced or no urine output, rapid weight gain, excessive nausea and vomiting.
Risk factors for Preeclampsia:
- It is more common in women who are pregnant for the first time and if there is greater interval between pregnancies.
- Pre pregnancy obesity
- Women with chronic kidney disease, insulin-dependent diabetics
- Women who are pregnant via IVF
- Those having a family history of preeclampsia.
- Stress and environmental factors such as living at a high altitude.
However there are no concrete measures to predict the risk of Preeclampsia in women who are pregnant for the first time with no previous history of hypertension. Hence early detection with periodic frequent checkups is the core tenant of managing preeclampsia. Maintaining optimal pre-pregnancy health may reduce risk of developing preeclampsia
Prevention of Preeclampsia:
- Appropriate dietary calcium intake in women deficient with calcium reduces the risk of developing preeclampsia. However it is to be noted that calcium supplementation doesn’t treat preeclampsia.
- According to WHO guidelines use of Vitamin D in prevention of preeclampsia has been rejected as there is no sufficient data. However pregnant women need to make sure they get the recommended amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy.
- Use of Vitamin C and E supplementation for prevention of preeclampsia has also been strongly refuted.
- There are no substantial evidences proving link between high salt intake and preeclampsia nevertheless healthy dietary practices are recommended which includes dietary salt restriction.
- As mentioned by mayoclinic.org low dose aspirin is given by doctors in patients with most of the risk factors. Aspirin administration is usually started at the end of first trimester.
Rest, exercise, reduced salt intake, garlic, marine oil, antioxidants all these have no substantial evidences to be recommended as preventive measures of preeclampsia. So far, no clear strategies have emerged to guide pregnant women towards prevention of preeclampsia. Hence the focus shifts to health of women prior to pregnancy. It is a suggested idea for women planning pregnancy to lose excess weight and be as healthy as they can. If they have diabetes or hypertension then proper management is recommended.
There is a lot of information available on internet with regards to prevention and treatment of preeclampsia, which may or may not have been verified. So its important women should first talk to a doctor before taking any supplements, vitamins or medications.
Long term implications: Women diagnosed with preeclampsia during pregnancy are at higher risk of developing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases later in life. Hence personalized diet and exercise are not to be neglected.