What Is Preeclampsia? Causes, Signs, Prevention

Preeclampsia is a medical condition that can occur in the later stages of pregnancy. If the health of the pregnant woman has problems or the way to take care of her is not correct, the risk of preeclampsia will be higher and can cause dangerous complications for both mother and fetus. Symptoms of preeclampsia can be experienced such as gestational hypertension, swelling of the face and hands, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath, upper abdominal pain, limited vision, little urination, etc. Learn more about the causes, signs, and prevention of preeclampsia.

What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that occurs when blood pressure is elevated along with signs of damage to other organs, mainly the kidneys.

However, preeclampsia can also occur around week 21 in women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia can occur in varying degrees. Severe cases of pre-eclampsia can affect the kidneys, heart, lungs, and liver of the pregnant woman, as well as make the fetus malnourished, reduce amniotic fluid, or can cause stillbirth in the uterus. If not detected and treated early, it can lead to eclampsia (convulsions) which can seriously affect the brain.

Causes of Preeclampsia

The cause of preeclampsia is currently unknown

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There is no clear cause for preeclampsia. However, experts think it begins in the placenta (the organ that nourishes the fetus).

In early pregnancy, blood vessels begin to develop to supply enough blood to the placenta to feed the fetus. But in pregnant women with preeclampsia, these blood vessels are not fully developed. They are narrower than normal and do not respond properly to hormonal stimulation causing blood volume to gradually decrease.

The cause of this abnormal blood vessel growth can be due to:

  • Damage to blood vessels.
  • Due to genes.
  • Insufficient blood flow to the uterus.
  • Or due to diseases related to the immune system.

Risk Factors for Preeclampsia

Overweight pregnant women have a higher risk of pre-eclampsia

About 6-8% of pregnant women experience the following conditions: pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, prenatal pre-eclampsia, postpartum preeclampsia. However, the following individuals are at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia.

  • People with a personal or family history of preeclampsia are at higher risk.
  • Women with chronic hypertension.
  • Women pregnant for the first time
  • Women who have twins, triplets, etc.
  • When pregnant with the second husband onward, you will have a higher risk of preeclampsia than the second and third pregnancy with the first husband.
  • Pregnant women over 40 years old.
  • The interval between pregnancies is too close (less than 2 years) or too far (more than 10 years).
  • Obese pregnant women are at high risk of preeclampsia.
  • Women before pregnancy have diseases: migraine, diabetes, chronic hypertension, kidney disease, …
  • If you conceive using IVF, you have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia.
  • Black women during pregnancy are at higher risk than women of other races.

Common Signs Of Preeclampsia

Pregnant with preeclampsia have some symptoms such as increased blood pressure, swelling of the face and hands, rapid weight gain

Pregnant women with preeclampsia may or may not have symptoms. Therefore, pregnant women need to go to the doctor and monitor their health regularly. If the following signs appear, it is necessary to go to the nearest medical facility for early diagnosis and treatment.

  • Gestational hypertension

It is important to monitor blood pressure during pregnancy because elevated blood pressure is the first sign of preeclampsia.

  • Swelling of the face or swelling of the hands

During pregnancy, if a pregnant woman has swelling in her face (especially in the area around the eyes) or swollen hands, she should pay attention and observe other symptoms.

  • Persistent headaches

If you have persistent and frequent headaches, you need to see a doctor right away.

  • Rapid weight gain

Weight gain is normal in pregnant women. However, rapid and abnormal weight gain is a warning sign of health problems.

  • Upper abdominal pain

If a pregnant woman has upper abdominal pain that is not caused by heartburn or a baby kicking, it could be a sign of preeclampsia.

  • Shortness of breath

This is a warning sign of a health problem that a pregnant woman absolutely must not ignore.

  • Sudden nausea, vomiting

When the morning period is over, but you still feel nausea and vomiting suddenly, you need to see a doctor find out the exact cause.

  • Dizziness, vision changes, or loss of vision

If during pregnancy appear dizzy, look at unclear objects, appear light spots, … you need to see a doctor soon.

  • Urinating less

Less urination, decreased urine output are also warning signs of preeclampsia that pregnant women need to be aware of.

What Complications Can Preeclampsia Cause?

Preeclampsia if not monitored and detected early can cause dangerous complications for both mother and fetus. Here are some common complications in women with preeclampsia.


Pregnant women with preeclampsia, if left untreated, can lead to complications of eclampsia (convulsions during pregnancy). This is a very serious complication that affects both mother and baby.

Premature birth

Preterm birth is a common complication for women with severe preeclampsia. However, in urgent cases, early delivery will limit the danger to the life of both mother and baby.

Placenta abruption

The risk of placental abruption with preeclampsia is usually high. The placenta is separated from the inner wall of the uterus before birth. Sudden and severe cases can cause heavy, life-threatening bleeding for mother and baby.

HELLP syndrome

HELLP syndrome is considered a variant of eclampsia. This syndrome usually occurs in the late stages of pregnancy, some cases can occur at the time of birth.

Cardiovascular disease

Pregnant women with preeclampsia have an increased risk of future cardiovascular and vascular diseases. Especially for women who gave birth prematurely or had multiple pre-eclampsia.

Injury to other organs

When having pre-eclampsia, pregnant women can also experience complications leading to damage to the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, eyes, etc. Depending on the severity of pre-eclampsia, the organs in the body. more or less damage.

Preterm birth is a common complication for women with severe preeclampsia

How to Prevent Preeclampsia Before and After Birth

To reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia before and after delivery, pregnant women can take the following precautions:

  • Periodic antenatal check-ups to monitor health regularly, and detect and promptly handle abnormalities in the body.
  • Regular exercise with appropriate movements helps pregnant women improve health, maintain weight and strengthen the body's immune system. It also reduces stress and fatigue during pregnancy.
  • When pregnant, pregnant women need to ensure sleep, should sleep at least 8 hours a day to ensure health as well as help the mind relax.
  • Water is an indispensable ingredient, especially for pregnant women, it is extremely necessary to supplement with about 8 glasses of water per day.
  • A healthy diet, adding lots of fresh vegetables and fruits helps to provide all the necessary nutrients for the body and at the same time limit high blood pressure. Good foods to help prevent preeclampsia such as avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, cucumbers, etc.
  • Supplement necessary vitamins and minerals for pregnant mothers such as folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamins C, B, E, phosphorus, magnesium, … In addition, pregnant women also need to strengthen vitamin D supplements for pregnant women. body as needed.
Periodic antenatal check-ups help pregnant women monitor their health regularly, and at the same time detect and promptly handle abnormalities in the body

To prevent preeclampsia during pregnancy as well as safe delivery, pregnant women need to have a balanced diet, exercise, combined with regular antenatal checkups to monitor their best health.

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The site cannot and does not contain medical advice. The medical information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals.

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