Pre eclampsia



The cause of pre-eclampsia is not known.

Risk Factors

Pre-eclampsia is more common in women who have not given birth before. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Problems with the immune system, such as lupus
  • Pre-eclampsia in a prior pregnancy
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Being pregnant with more than one baby
  • Being overweight or obese



A woman may not have symptoms. Those who do may have:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • Swelling of the hands and face
  • Headaches
  • Problems seeing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upper belly pain
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Chest pain
  • Problems breathing


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Pre-eclampsia is diagnosed if a pregnant woman has high blood pressure.

Other tests that may be done are:

  • Urine tests to look for high protein levels
  • Blood tests to check for low levels of platelets that are needed to help with blood clotting



The only way to cure this condition is to deliver the baby. The decision to do so is based on how far along the pregnancy is.

If it is safe, labor may happen on its own or it may be started by the doctor. Delivery may need to be delayed so the baby has more time to grow.

If the baby needs more time and pre-eclampsia is mild, it may be managed by:

  • Monitoring at home or in the hospital
  • Medicines to lower blood pressure
  • Medicine to help the baby's lungs develop faster


Aspirin may lower the risk of this health problem in women who are at risk.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.