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Eclampsia. Causes, risks and prevention in pregnancy

Eclampsia. Causes, risks and prevention in pregnancy


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Eclampsia is caused by hypertension during pregnancy and is the severe phase of pre-eclampsia. It is characterized by presence of seizures and coma, which are the symptoms that differentiate eclampsia from preeclampsia.

Generally, it usually appears in the last trimester of pregnancy, during the first 24 hours from the beginning of labor or during its development. Although only 5 percent of preeclampsia cases progress to eclampsia, when it is not controlled it is a major cause of maternal death.

It consists of the worsening of the arterial hypertension of the pregnancy, when it affects the cerebral vascularization. At this point, the patient suffers seizures and the disease leads to eclampsia, which is a very serious complication for the life of the mother and the fetus.

Currently, it is rare to reach this phase of the disease, thanks to the fact that the prenatal controls carried out by most pregnant women can detect it in its early stages. Its appearance causes spasms in the blood vessels of the uterus, cutting off the blood supply to the fetus and, therefore, causing a lack of oxygen that can lead to fetal distress. In this extreme case, the mother is also in danger, due to a possible kidney complication and a decrease in oxygen in the brain.

They have not yet discovered the causes that trigger eclampsia, but there are certain factors that influence the disease such as genetic background, diet, blood vessel morphology and certain neurological factors.

Eclampsia always occurs after preeclampsia, which is a serious complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, weight gain, and protein in the urine.

The rate of eclampsia is approximately 1 in 2,000 to 3,000 pregnancies and therefore it is difficult to predict which women with severe pre-eclampsia with high blood pressure, headaches, vision changes, or abnormal blood tests will experience seizures and loss of consciousness.

However, several studies have found that the following characteristics increase a woman's chances of suffering from preeclampsia: first pregnancy, teenage pregnancies, late pregnancies in women over 35 years old, being black, having a multiple pregnancy or having a history diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease.

Preventing eclampsia is not an easy task, as there is no known preventive method for this disease. However, it is possible to keep it at bay through early prenatal check-ups for all pregnant women. The periodicity of these examinations will allow the timely diagnosis and treatment of preeclampsia to prevent eclampsia from occurring.

Eclampsia increases the risk of premature detachment of the placenta and the disease can lead to premature delivery. Maternal mortality in eclampsia is around 10-15 percent, although most patients improve markedly within 24 to 48 hours after initiating appropriate treatment. It is usually necessary to terminate the pregnancy early and perform a cesarean section.

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