Hypertension and high risk pregnancy are connected: High blood pressure in a pregnant woman leads to blood vessel damage of the placenta, the heart and the kidney. The changes in these vital organs lead to an accelerated form to eclampsia with seizures, strokes, shock and kidney failure. Fortunately, this full picture of eclampsia is rare as the physician constantly checks for pre-eclampsia, the earliest form of pregnancy induced hypertension. We still do not know the exact pathophysiology of pre-eclampsia, but we do know that there is a typical symptom combination of hypertension, fluid retention, edema as well as leakage of protein from the kidneys (Ref. 18, p.935).
The three key signs of pre-eclampsia
Hypertension, edema and protein leakage through the kidneys into the urine make up the classical three symptoms of pre-eclampsia. About 12% of primigravidas and 6% of multigravidas develop this syndrome, in twin pregnancies this rate is even higher. Pre-existing kidney disease or hypertension make the pregnant woman more susceptible to developing pre-eclampsia earlier in the pregnancy.
Often,when pre-ecplampsia develops, bedrest is the first line of defence, sometimes reinforced in the hospital setting. If this does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, magnesium sulfate by intravenous drip is utilizied. A specialist (obstetrician) should be consulted for the more serious cases. There is some indication that oral calcium (1 or 2 Rolaids per day) will prevent minor pre-eclampsia cases (Ref.18, p. 943).
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