Welcome to Australian Action on Preeclampsia’s website. We endeavor to educate, raise awareness and support people that have been affected by the condition.
What is preeclampsia (PE)?
Preeclampsia is an illness, which only occurs in pregnancy. Indeed, it is the most common serious medical disorder of human pregnancy. It is sometimes referred to as preeclamptic toxaemia (abbreviated to PET), and many years ago it was also known as “kidney fits”. Preeclampsia can affect both the mother and her unborn baby. It usually arises during the second half of pregnancy, and can even occur some days after delivery. In the mother, it can cause several problems of which she may be unaware – such as high blood pressure (hypertension), leakage of protein into the urine (proteinuria), thinning of the blood (coagulopathy) and liver dysfunction. Occasionally, preeclampsia can lead to convulsions (fits), a serious complication known as eclampsia. Also, when a pregnancy is complicated by PE, the baby may grow more slowly than normal in the womb or suffer a potentially harmful oxygen deficiency.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure during pregnancy is one of the biggest red flags that preeclampsia may be developing. And even if it’s not a symptom of preeclampsia, it can still be a sign of a problem.
High blood pressure is traditionally defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or greater, measured on two separate occasions six hours apart. During pregnancy, a rise in the lower number (diastolic) of 15 degrees or more, or a rise in the upper number (systolic) of 30 degrees or more can also be a cause for concern.
Dull or severe, throbbing headaches, often described as migraine-like that just won’t go away are cause for concern.
A certain amount of swelling is normal during pregnancy. Unless you’re one of a lucky few, you may notice a little extra puffiness in your feet (good luck fitting into your pre-pregnancy shoes!). Edema, on the other hand, is the accumulation of excess fluid, and can be a concern when it occurs in your face, around your eyes, or in your hands.
Changes in Vision
Vision changes are one of the most serious symptoms of preeclampsia. They may be associated with central nervous system irritation or be an indication of swelling of the brain (cerebral edema).
Common vision changes include sensations of flashing lights, auras, light sensitivity, or blurry vision or spots.
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