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What are the symptoms of preeclampsia, eclampsia, & HELLP syndrome?

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Possible symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Too much protein in the urine
  • Swelling in a woman's face and hands (a woman's feet might swell too, but swollen feet are common during pregnancy and may not signal a problem)
  • Systemic problems, such as headache, blurred vision, and right upper quadrant abdominal pain


Women with preeclampsia can develop seizures. The following symptoms are cause for immediate concern1:

  • Severe headache
  • Vision problems, such as temporary blindness
  • Abdominal pain, especially in the upper right area of the belly
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Smaller urine output or not urinating very often

HELLP Syndrome

HELLP syndrome can lead to serious complications, including liver failure and death.1

A pregnant woman with HELLP syndrome might bleed or bruise easily and/or experience abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, headache, or extreme fatigue. Although most women who develop HELLP syndrome already have high blood pressure and preeclampsia, sometimes the syndrome is the first sign. In addition, HELLP syndrome can occur without a woman having either high blood pressure or protein in her urine.

  1. Sibai, B. M. (2012). Hypertension. In S. G. Gabbe, J. R. Niebyl, J. L. Simpson, & M. B. Landon (Eds.), Obstetrics: Normal and problem pregnancies (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders. [top]

Last Reviewed: 06/18/2013
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology