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Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension

Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Introduction

Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy in which high blood pressure (hypertension) occurs and can lead to a very serious complication called eclampsia. Preeclampsia is also known as toxemia of pregnancy and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

In addition to high blood pressure a woman with preeclampsia retains excessive fluid and spills protein into her urine. Preeclampsia is dangerous because it can affect the blood flow from the mother to the baby through the placenta. The placenta is the connection between the pregnant mother and the infant and a health placenta is critical to providing the developing baby with vital nutrients and oxygen.

Complications of preeclampsia can include low birth weight and premature delivery of the baby. Preeclampsia also increases the risk of a damaging a woman's heart, eyes, lungs and kidneys and increases the risk of a woman developing cardiovascular disease in the future.

There are often no symptoms of early preeclampsia. Symptoms of advanced preeclampsia include headaches, blurred vision and bloating. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of preeclampsia.

The cause of preeclampsia is unknown, but it is more common in pregnancies that involve twins, triplets or other multiple births. It also happens more often in first pregnancies and in women with a personal or family history of diabetes or hypertension.

Getting regular prenatal medical care is vital to diagnosing preeclampsia before serious complications can occur. Prenatal visits include checking a woman's blood pressure and testing the urine for the presence of protein. At prenatal visits, a woman is also weighed and the fetal heart rate is measure with a doppler.

Making a diagnosis of preeclampsia and other complications of pregnancy also includes taking a medical and pregnancy history and completing a physical and pelvic examination. During a pelvic examination, the obstetrician or nurse midwife will examine the cervix for abnormalities and take a swab sample of the woman's cervix and have it tested for certain sexually transmitted diseases. These diseases can cause serious complications with pregnancy and a developing fetus. A Pap smear will also be done to screen for cervical cancer.

A variety of other tests are also performed during prenatal care to evaluate overall health of the mother and the fetus. Tests include ultrasound imaging of the fetus, uterus and amniotic fluid. Blood tests include a complete blood count (CBC), a chemistry panel, urinanalysis, and blood glucose testing to check for gestational diabetes. Triple screen test and quad screen testing are also done.

Amniocentesis may also be performed for some women. Amniocentesis can check for a wide number of tests that can help determine the health of a developing fetus. These include testing for Down syndrome and certain central nervous system diseases, blood diseases, skeletal diseases, and metabolism disorders.

It is possible that a diagnosis of preeclampsia can be missed or delayed. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is treated with rest, limiting salt intake and medications for some women. Regular prenatal visits are crucial to monitoring the condition so that it can be treated more aggressively if it progresses. Hospitalization may be necessary to ensure the health of the mother and the baby. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of preeclampsia. ...more »

Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: 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 ... more about Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension.

Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Preeclampsia is the development of high blood pressure, excess protein in the urine and swelling during pregnancy. Hypertension is a serious health condition due to the fact that it often causes no symptoms until it is severe. The blood pressure usually returns to normal after delivery. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension is available below.

Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Symptoms

Many women are unaware that they have preeclampsia because early symptoms are not always noticeable. When symptoms do appear they include fluid retention and swelling. Clinical signs of preeclampsia include high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine or proteinuria. Women are generally not aware of these signs, which is why it is so important to get ...more symptoms »

Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Treatments

Treatment of preeclampsia begins with getting regular prenatal care, ideally before a pregnancy begins, or as soon as possible during pregnancy. Prenatal visits include the checking of blood pressure and testing of urine for the presence of protein.

Mild preeclampsia is treated with rest, limiting salt intake and antihypertensive medication for some women. Regular ...more treatments »

Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of preeclampsia may be delayed or missed when a woman does not seek early and regular prenatal care. In addition, a woman with early preeclampsia often has no symptoms. Because preeclampsia can lead to serious complications, such as low birth weight, eclampsia and premature delivery, regular prenatal care is crucial. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension

Treatments for Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension

  • Close monitoring, reduced stress, bed rest, reduced salt intake, medications such as methyldopa and labetalol in more severe cases. Severe cases may require induction of the birth or caesarean section. Treatment is complicated by the fact that blood pressure-reducing medications may have a harmful effect on the baby
  • more treatments...»

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Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Deaths

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Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Complications

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Causes of Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension

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Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension

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Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have something milder. more »

Unnecessary hysterectomies due to undiagnosed bleeding disorder in women: The bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's disease is quite common in women, but often fails to be more »

Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, more »

Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed, leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed. People become concerned that a condition more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, more »

Rare type of breast cancer without a lump: There is a less common form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer. Its symptoms can be an inflammation of the breast tissue, such as more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure more »

Over-diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension in obese patients: A diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, particularly pulmonary arterial hypertension, is often a misdiagnosis more »

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Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis more »

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Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Rare Types

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Prognosis for Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension

Prognosis for Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension: Careful monitoring and management of the condition can ensure a good prognosis.

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Article Excerpts about Pregnancy toxemia /hypertension

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. (Source: excerpt from High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy: NHLBI)

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