What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition in which pregnant women experience a sudden increase in blood pressure anytime after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The condition is also marked by high levels of protein in the urine. Women with preeclampsia may experience fluid retention as well.
Preeclampsia can harm the kidneys, liver, and brain and may lead to long-term health problems. It can be fatal for both mother and baby.
Signs of Preeclampsia
Women with preeclampsia often do not feel ill. However, they may experience these symptoms:
What Causes It?
Although the cause of preeclampsia is unknown, possible causes include autoimmune disorders, blood vessel problems, heredity, and poor diet.
Preeclampsia may be more likely to affect women in their first pregnancy, women who are pregnant with more than one fetus, obese women, women older than 40 or younger than 18, and women with a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.
Management of Preeclampsia
Delivery of the baby is the only way to cure preeclampsia. However, if the fetus is not fully developed and the preeclampsia is mild, your doctor may recommend managing your condition with strategies such as bed rest and use of blood pressure medication.
Since preeclampsia is potentially life-threatening for mother and baby, it's important to seek medical attention if you experience any preeclampsia symptoms, rather than attempt to self-treat the disease.
How to Prevent Preeclampsia
Taking low dose aspirin has been shown to be an effective preventive measure for women at high risk for developing preeclampsia. While no other methods have been proven to lower your risk, the following may help improve your overall health, which can improve your chances of avoiding preeclampsia:
1) Stress Reduction
Studies on the role of stress in the development of preeclampsia have yielded mixed results so far. However, some research suggests that stress may increase your risk for the condition.
2) Antioxidant Supplements
In a 2003 study, researchers found that women with higher levels of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin had a decreased preeclampsia risk compared to those with low levels of these antioxidant vitamins.
If you're considering taking supplements to increase your antioxidant levels, make sure to consult your physician first.
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