What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a medical term used to describe a potentially fatal medical condition involving high blood pressure that develops in the mother during pregnancy. Preeclampsia can develop as early as 20 weeks or as late as six weeks postpartum.
Preeclampsia, which occurs in about 1 in 20 pregnancies, is characterized by:
- High blood pressure
- Protein in the urine
- Sudden weight gain
- Changes in vision
- Complaints of heartburn
When preeclampsia and related conditions such as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) and toxemia are not diagnosed or properly treated, serious harm may result, such as kidney and liver damage, cerebral hemorrhaging or placental abruption.
What is HELLP Syndrome?
When preeclampsia is allowed to go unchecked, more serious and potentially deadly conditions such as full-blown eclampsia or HELLP syndrome may develop. HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count.
Eclampsia causes seizures in the mother and can be life-threatening to both mother and baby. HELLP syndrome is characterized by symptoms such as:
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Upper abdomen pain
- Tingling sensation in extremities
HELLP syndrome can cause life-threatening bleeding, liver problems and blood pressure problems to the mother that put both mother and baby at risk.
What if a doctor claims not to have seen warning signs?
Often, doctors and other medical professionals refuse to admit they did anything wrong. This is especially true if they failed to diagnose preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome. And it’s often because they know there could be thousands or millions of dollars at stake.
Many preeclampsia sufferers exhibit no outward signs or symptoms. But given how common – and how harmful – such medical conditions can be, doctors need to be vigilant and conduct all the necessary tests designed to diagnose them.
Did your doctor heed the warning signs? Take the proper precautions? Order the necessary tests? Or did your doctor fail to follow standard procedures for diagnosing and treating these extremely harmful medical conditions?
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