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Thursday, May 3, 2018

PReeclampsia Awareness

My child  birthing years were not easy. One issue I had was Preeclampsia which has also been known as toxemia. Pregnant women develop this condition and it is often marked with high blood pressure. Women who suffer with preeclampsia will have a high level of protein in their urine, swelling in their feet, hands and legs. It often appears late in pregnancy during or after the 20th week of pregnancy, it has often been known to occur earlier.

Preeclampsia is very serious. In extreme cases the ailment can lead to death. The best way to deal with preeclampsia is to get educated. Know what to look for and pay attention to your body. Preeclampsia has often been known as the "silent killer" as unless you are aware of your blood pressure you will not know that it is going up or that you have increased protein in your urine.

Only around 5 to 8% of all pregnancies will be affected by preeclampsia. The condition does progress quickly. Signs to be aware of are swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches, changes in vision and upper right quadrant pain. Some women will not be aware of or have few symptoms.

Pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year. The only cure is to deliver your baby. Doctors strive to reach 37 weeks when ever possible but the severity of symptoms may not allow this. The baby response to the illness is also a reason that delivery may come early. Deciding and confirming Preclampsia often depend on these test:

  • Blood pressure monitoring.  I was on a blood pressure monitor for almost 24 hours, the first 8-9hours I was ‘hypertensive’ (peaking at around 106/96).
  • Test your reflexes. Reflexes are more ‘violent’ when Preeclampsia is present.
  • Urine dip – to check the level of protein.  If this is negative, or inconclusive and you still have symptoms that suggest it’s possible, they may do a ‘24 hour urine collection’ which is what they did with me.  Essentially you pee in a tub for 24 hours and they run a total protein level over an extended period of time compared to the amount of pee you produce and compared also to your liver and kidney function (repeat blood test).
  • Blood test to check your liver function and platelet count.  They ran this twice with me, once when I was in the hospital being observed and once after I’d handed in my 24 hours of pee in a tub, this is to correlate the protein level in your urine, against your kidney and liver function numbers in your blood.

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