Jay Goldberg (Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) gives expert video advice on: What is "preeclampsia"?; When will my doctor test me for preeclampsia?; How is preeclampsia treated? and more...
What is "preeclampsia"?
Preeclampsia is a condition typically that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and most often occurs in the third trimester that is associated with elevated blood pressures, protein in your urine sample that you give to the doctor, excessive swelling, and some abnormal lab values. There are a couple of other signs that your doctor would look for, like headaches that don't go away with Tylenol, blurring or double vision, dizziness or pain in the right rib cage. These symptoms might suggest preeclampsia. It's a condition that is, again, unique to pregnancy that mainly by definition is elevated blood pressures, protein in your urine, and excessive swelling. This is preeclampsia.
When will my doctor test me for preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is going to be defined by your doctor because you'll be seeing your doctor in your third trimester - initially every four weeks and then every two weeks and eventually every week - and your doctor will be checking for protein in your urine, will be checking your blood pressures, and will be examining you at every visit, to make sure you do not develop preeclampsia. If there are signs that are pointing towards preeclampsia then your doctor will either increase the frequency of your visits or dictate management if the preeclampsia appears to be severe right away.
How is preeclampsia treated?
Preeclampsia is broken down into two categories. There's mild preeclampsia and severe preeclampsia. And these criteria - there's certain criteria that the doctor will evaluate you for to see if you fit into the mild or severe preeclamptic range. If the preeclampsia is mild, it's sometimes conservatively managed by just monitoring your blood pressures on a regular basis. If you're close to your due date, it's sometimes recommended that you deliver if you develop preeclampsia. Severe preeclampsia is treated differently. Severe preeclampsia entails immediate admission to the hospital. And, most often, severe preeclampsia entails immediate delivery. They may try and stall your delivery for 24-48 hours to try and administer medications to mature the baby, especially if you're remote from your due date. But severe preeclampsia usually requires a very soon delivery.
What is my prognosis if I have preeclampsia?
When you have preeclampsia, the treatment is delivery. So if it's severe, the treatment is delivery. If it's mild and you're far from your due date, then we try and manage it conservatively and get you closer to your due date to maximize the benefit to the baby. Once you deliver, approximately 98 percent of preeclampsia is cured by delivery, and within 24 to 48 hours, another percent is cured. There are some patients that have elevated blood pressures and headaches and protein in their urine for an extended period of time, but 99 percent are usually cured of preeclampsia within the first 48 hours after delivery.