During your pregnancy, it's important for you and your doctor to monitor your blood pressure. That’s because having high blood pressure (hypertension) after 20 weeks of pregnancy may indicate a serious condition called preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a type of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) that can cause serious problems for the mother, including seizures and damage to the liver and kidneys. In some cases, preeclampsia can be fatal.

Risk Factors for Preeclampsia

About one in 14 pregnant women will experience some kind of hypertension during their pregnancy. You are more likely to develop preeclampsia if you have other risk factors, such as:

  • Rapid weight gain (5 pounds in 5 days)
  • Swelling or puffiness in your fingers, feet, face or eyelids
  • Numbness in your hands or feet
  • Severe headaches or pain in your abdomen
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Being in your teens or over age 35
  • Having a history of high blood pressure or previous PIH
  • Having diabetes, immune system disorders or kidney disease
  • Being pregnant with more than one baby

Protect Your Prenatal Health with Regular Screenings

In addition to hypertension, preeclampsia is marked by an unusually high level of protein in the urine. Since you cannot detect either of these signs on your own, the best way to protect against preeclampsia is to attend all of your prenatal care appointments and follow-up exams.

If you experience any of the following symptoms between your prenatal appointments, call your Mercy doctor right away:

  • Blurred vision or ringing in your ears
  • Decrease in fetal movement
  • Uterine contractions

Preeclampsia can be frightening, but Mercy’s specialists are experts in screening for and treating this condition and its complications. When it happens toward the end of the pregnancy, the best treatment is to deliver the baby early.

Moms who develop preeclampsia earlier may need more frequent prenatal visits, and possibly more ultrasounds and other tests to monitor both mother and baby. In some cases, medications may be recommended to help control blood pressure and other symptoms. If preeclampsia is severe, we'll provide round-the-clock attention in the hospital.

We understand that complications such as preeclampsia are upsetting, and we’re here to help make sure your pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. Count on us to provide the best possible care for both of you.

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