Eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy characterized by seizures and coma. Eclampsia occurs in a pregnant woman suffering from preeclampsia. High blood pressure, passage of protein in urine and swelling in legs are three important criteria for diagnosing preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia and eclampsia are two most serious and life threatening medical complication of pregnancy. At least 1 in 200 to 300 women suffering from preeclampsia may have this dreaded condition during their pregnancy. Doctors always monitor and treat a pregnant lady having preeclampsia so as to prevent the serious complication called eclampsia.
Intolerable headache, blurring vision, pain in abdomen, are some of the warning symptoms of developing eclampsia in a pregnant woman suffering from preeclampsia. The exact cause of eclampsia is not known but certain risk factors such as pregnancy in older age, twin pregnancy, diabetes etc are suspected. It is also known to run in families. The only viable treatment for eclampsia is delivering the baby.
What Causes Eclampsia In Pregnancy?
The exact cause of eclampsia is not known, but it occurs in a patient suffering from preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a medical condition during pregnancy.Its clinical symptoms are high blood pressure, protein in urine, and swelling in legs. If preeclampsia is not controlled, there is high risk of patient suffering from dreaded complication known as eclapmsia. Researchers suspect high blood pressure during pregnancy which damages the inner lining of artery to be the cause. Damage in the arteries of brain may affect its functioning leading to seizures and coma.
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia usually occur in first pregnancy. The risk increases in pregnant women above the age of 35 or if she is diabetic and hypertensive before she conceives.
- Obese pregnant women are at greater risk of suffering from preeclampsia and eclampsia.
- Twin pregnancy, poor socioeconomic condition, preexisting vascular disease, pregnancy in teen age can increase the risk of eclampsia.
Signs And Symptoms Of Eclampsia
Seizures during pregnancy which are not related to any previous brain disease are characteristic feature of eclampsia. As eclampsia occurs in a pregnant woman having preeclampsia, patient may also have symptoms of preeclampsia. High blood pressure during pregnancy, swelling in feet and face, passage of protein in urine may be present. The risk of eclampsia increases if blood pressure is 160/110 mm of hg.
Patient may also have severe headache, blurring of vision, seeing floaters, pain in upper abdomen, as a warning sign of eclampsia.
The growing fetus in womb is also affected due to maternal preeclampsia and eclampsia. Placenta which supplies blood, oxygen and nutrients to the fetus is affected due to high blood pressure. As a result the baby may have low birth weight, may be very small sized or in some cases it may lead to stillbirth.
Before the onset of seizure patient with eclampsia typically present with severe agitation. Few patients may become comatose.
Treatment Of Eclampsia
Treatment of eclampsia is prompt delivery. Once patient is diagnosed with preeclampsia doctors monitor blood pressure, proteinuria, and swelling regularly. Most patients with preeclampsia are recommended to take rest and anti hypertensive medicines.
As eclampsia is unpredictable in a pregnant woman, doctors usually prescribe anticonvulsant medicines in patient suffering from preeclampsia. Anticonvulsant medicine is also given during labor in a pregnant woman having high blood pressure.
Treatment of eclampsia should be prompt as there is fetal as well as maternal risk involved, often life threatening.