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Expecting a child can involve a mix of emotions, including excitement for your new baby and apprehension about potential complications. While most pregnancies go smoothly, roughly 4 percent can be affected by a condition known as preeclampsia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though highly treatable, preeclampsia carries long-term implications that can impact your health after childbirth
A: Preeclampsia is a serious, pregnancy-related condition characterized by hypertension (high blood pressure) and damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys. It typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, often in the third trimester, and can impact both your and your baby's health. While preeclampsia can elevate the risk of premature birth, most individuals with preeclampsia deliver healthy babies. If left untreated, however, preeclampsia can lead to severe health complications for you and your baby.
While we still don’t know the exact causes of preeclampsia, some risk factors include genetic predisposition, obesity, high blood pressure and multiple pregnancies.
A: Preeclampsia and eclampsia are related conditions, but they differ in severity. Preeclampsia is marked by high blood pressure and organ damage, whereas eclampsia is a severe form of preeclampsia—a medical emergency that involves seizures or convulsions. If preeclampsia is not managed properly, it can progress to eclampsia, posing a serious threat to both you and your baby. That’s why early detection and treatment are crucial, so we can prevent these conditions from worsening.
A: While preeclampsia and its symptoms typically resolve within a few days to weeks postpartum, the underlying risk factors and potential long-term effects may persist. Some people who had normal blood pressure during their pregnancy may also develop preeclampsia after delivery. This condition, known as postpartum preeclampsia, is rare but can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
A: Preeclampsia can leave a lasting impact on your health even after pregnancy. People who’ve had preeclampsia are at an increased risk of developing certain medical conditions later in life, including chronic hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. These risks can persist for years, making it even more important for you to prioritize your health long-term.
A: There are a lot of ways you can stay mindful of your health and protect yourself from the long-term risks of preeclampsia. First, continue to schedule regular check-ups with your health care provider after childbirth so you can both monitor your blood pressure and overall health. In some cases, your provider may recommend medication to manage your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
We also suggest adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity and managing stress. Reducing salt intake, avoiding smoking and excessive caffeine, and maintaining a healthy weight can also support your heart health and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular problems.
People who’ve had preeclampsia can absolutely enjoy a healthy life following their pregnancy. It’s just important to remember to stay on top of your regular check-ups and collaborate with your provider to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lower your risk for other health issues.
If you’re pregnant and experiencing convulsions, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, blurry vision or a severe and persistent headache, contact your health care provider immediately.
The material set forth in this site in no way seeks to diagnose or treat illness or to serve as a substitute for professional medical care. Please speak with your health care provider if you have a health concern or if you are considering adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. For permission to reprint any portion of this website or to be removed from a notification list, please contact us at (856) 537-6772