Eclampsia is the new onset of seizures or coma in a pregnant woman with preeclampsia. These seizures are not related to an existing brain condition.
Pregnancy - eclampsia; Preeclampsia - eclampsia; High blood pressure - eclampsia; Seizure - eclampsia; Hypertension - eclampsia
Doctors do not know exactly what causes eclampsia. Factors that may play a role include:
Eclampsia follows a condition called preeclampsia. This is a complication of pregnancy in which a woman has high blood pressure and other findings.
Most women with preeclampsia do not go on to have seizures. It is hard to predict which women will. Women at high risk of seizures often have severe preeclampsia with findings such as:
Your chance of getting preeclampsia increases when:
Symptoms of eclampsia include:
Most women, but not all, will have symptoms of preeclampsia before the seizure.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will do a physical exam to look for causes of seizures. Blood pressure and breathing rate will be checked regularly.
Blood and urine tests may be done to check:
The main treatment to prevent severe preeclampsia from progressing to eclampsia is giving birth to the baby. Letting the pregnancy go on can be dangerous for you and the baby.
You may be given medicine to prevent seizures. These medicines are called anticonvulsants.
Your provider may prescribe medicine to lower high blood pressure. If your blood pressure stays high, delivery may be needed, even if it is before the baby is due.
Women with eclampsia or preeclampsia have a higher risk of:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider or go to the emergency room if you have any symptoms of eclampsia or preeclampsia. Emergency symptoms include seizures or decreased alertness.
Seek medical care right away if you have any of the following:
Getting medical care during your entire pregnancy is important in preventing complications. This allows problems such as preeclampsia to be detected and treated early.
Getting treatment for preeclampsia may prevent eclampsia.
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Review Date: 4/5/2016
Reviewed By: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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