Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms

Eclampsia Overview

What is eclampsia?
A woman with eclampsia has severe symptoms of preeclampsia during pregnancy. Preeclampsia turns into eclampsia when a woman develops serious central nervous system symptoms, such as generalized tonic-clonic seizures or coma. Preeclampsia is diagnosed by high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the twentieth week of pregnancy. Preeclampsia occurs in about 7 out of 100 pregnancies. The cause for preeclampsia is unknown. Up to 2 out of every 100 women with preeclampsia develop eclampsia, which is a life threatening illness.

What are the symptoms of eclampsia?
Symptoms of preeclampsia include high blood pressure, leg swelling, arm swelling, facial swelling, fatigue, and rapid weight gain of more than 5 pounds (2 kilograms) per week. Early symptoms of eclampsia include a severe headache, blurred vision, double vision, or seeing spots. Advanced symptoms include seizures and coma.

How does the doctor treat eclampsia?
The only treatment for eclampsia is medications to control seizures (e.g. magnesium sulfate, diazepam) and high blood pressure (e.g. hydralazine, labetalol) and emergency delivery of the fetus. Depending on the condition of the mother and fetus, this may occur by c-section or induction of labor and vaginal delivery.

Continue to Eclampsia Symptoms

Last Updated: Oct 29, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Eclampsia References
  1. Bhattacharya S, Campbell DM. The incidence of severe complications of preeclampsia. Hypertens Pregnancy. 2005;24(2):181-90. [16036402]
  2. Conde-Agudelo A, Villar J, Lindheimer M. World Health Organization systematic review of screening tests for preeclampsia. Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Dec;104(6):1367-91. [15572504]
  3. de Jong CL, Dekker GA, Sibai BM. The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in preeclampsia. A review. Clin Perinatol. 1991 Dec;18(4):683-711. [1662573]
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