Basic information for topics, such as "What is it?" and "How many people are affected?" is available in the About Preeclampsia and Eclampsia section. Answers to other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) specific to preeclampsia and eclampsia are in this section.
If you currently have chronic hypertension (high blood pressure not due to pregnancy), you may be at higher-than-average risk for getting preeclampsia during pregnancy. Your risk is also higher if you had gestational hypertension (high blood pressure that occurs only during pregnancy) or preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy, if you are obese, or if you have other risk factors.1
Talk with your health care provider about how hypertension might affect your pregnancy and what you can do to lower your risk.
Before You Get Pregnant
- Visit your health care provider for a pre-pregnancy visit to discuss what you can do to lower your risk. Your health care provider may recommend ways to control your blood pressure, if needed, by limiting your salt intake, exercising regularly, and losing weight if you are overweight.
- If you take medication to control your blood pressure, ask your health care provider if you should change it. Some medications should not be used during pregnancy. Your health care provider may be able to recommend safer alternatives.
While You Are Pregnant
- Get regular prenatal care, including regular blood pressure checks, urine tests for protein, as well as regular weight checks.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
- Talk with your health care provider about any drugs or supplements that you take or are thinking of taking, including vitamins and herbs. Follow your provider's recommendations about prescription and other medications.
- If you are at very high risk of preeclampsia, your doctor may recommend that you start taking low-dose aspirin after at least 12 weeks of pregnancy.2
Studies show that if you had preeclampsia during your first pregnancy, you are more likely to develop it again in later pregnancies.3 Your risk is even higher if you delivered your first child before 28 weeks of pregnancy or if you are overweight or obese.3
Your risk of having preeclampsia again is also higher if you developed preeclampsia early in your previous pregnancy, if you developed chronic hypertension or diabetes after the first pregnancy, if you had in vitro fertilization, or if you are carrying more than one fetus. Having severe preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome during the first pregnancy also raises your risk.
Studies suggest that if you had HELLP syndrome during one pregnancy, you are more likely to have some form of gestational hypertension again.4
- Zamorski, M. A., & Green, L. A. (2001). NHBPEP report on high blood pressure in pregnancy: A summary for family physicians. American Family Physician, 64(2), 263–270.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2015). Low-dose aspirin use for the prevention of morbidity and mortality from preeclampsia: Recommendation statement. American Family Physician, 91(5). Retrieved August 8, 2016, from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0301/od1.html
- Mostello, D., Kallogjeri, D., Tungsiripat, R., & Leet, T. (2008). Recurrence of preeclampsia: Effects of gestational age at delivery of the first pregnancy, body mass index, paternity, and interval between births. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 199(1), 55.e1–55.e7. Retrieved December 30, 2016, from http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(07)02240-5/fulltext
- Haram, K., Svendsen, E., & Abildgaard, U. (2009). The HELLP syndrome: Clinical issues and management. A review. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 9, 8. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654858/