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High Blood Pressure and Pregnancy: What’s Preeclampsia?


Preeclampsia is a condition that typically starts after the 20th week of pregnancy and is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother’s urine (as a result of kidney problems). Preeclampsia affects the placenta, and it can affect the mother’s kidney, liver, and brain. When preeclampsia causes seizures, the condition is known as eclampsia-the second leading cause of maternal death in the U.S. Preeclampsia is also a leading cause of fetal complications, which include low birth weight, premature birth, and stillbirth.

Although many pregnant women with high blood pressure have healthy babies without serious problem, high blood pressure can be dangerous for both the mother and the fetus. Women with pre-existing, or chronic, high blood pressure are more likely to have certains complications during pregnancy than those with normal blood pressure. However, some women develop high blood pressure while they’re pregnant. It called gestational hypertension.

The effect of high blood pressure range from mild to severe. High blood pressure can harm the mother’s kidney and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery. In the most serious cases, the mother develops preeclampsia which can threaten the lives of both the mother and the fetus.

Here are pregnant women who will likely to get preeclampsia:

* Women with chronic hypertension (high blood pressure before becoming pregnant).
* Women who developed high blood pressure or preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy, especially if these conditions occurred early in the pregnancy.
* Women who are obese prior to pregnancy.
* Pregnant women under the age of 20 or over the age of 40.
* Women who are pregnant with more than one baby.
* Women with diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma.

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