Pre-eclampsia is high blood pressure during pregnancy. You may also have too much protein in your urine. This condition can harm your organs.
Cardiovascular System and Kidneys
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The cause is unknown.
Pre-eclampsia is more common in women aged 40 years and older.
Other factors that may raise your chance are:
You may not have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Preeclampsia is diagnosed if you have high blood pressure.
You may also have:
Early treatment can help prevent eclampsia, which is seizures caused by severe pre-eclampsia.
You may have:
The only way to cure this condition is to deliver the baby. The decision to do so depends on many things, such as:
Labor may happen on its own or it may be started by your doctor. If there are life-threatening problems for either you or your baby, a cesarean section may be done. During labor, you may need medicine to control your blood pressure and prevent seizures.
Mild pre-eclampsia can often be managed with rest and medicine if the baby is close to term. Your doctor may advise medicines to:
If you live close to the hospital, your doctor may advise that you rest at home in a quiet setting. At home, you may need to:
If pre-eclampsia is moderate or your home setting is not restful, the doctor may admit you to the hospital. This may mean:
If you have had pre-eclampsia in the past, ask your doctor whether you should take aspirin or a calcium supplement. These may help prevent this health problem in women who are at risk.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The Canadian Women's Health Network
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)
Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116522/Hypertensive-disorders-of-pregnancy . Updated April 30, 2018. Accessed August 9, 2018.
Kumar A, Devi SG, Batra S, Singh C, Shukla DK. Calcium supplementation for the prevention of pre-eclampsia. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009;104(1):32-36.
Preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
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Updated May 2018. Accessed August 9, 2018.
Pregnancy-induced hypertension. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
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Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed August 9, 2018.
Samuels-Kalow ME, Funai EF, Buhimschi C, et al. Prepregnancy body mass index, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and long-term maternal mortality. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;197(5):490.e1-e6.
7/6/2006 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116522/Hypertensive-disorders-of-pregnancy : Villar J, Abdel-Aleem H, Merialdi M, et al. World Health Organization randomized trial of calcium supplementation among low calcium intake pregnant women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006;194(3):639-649.
8/6/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116522/Hypertensive-disorders-of-pregnancy : Bujold E, Roberge S, Lacasse Y, et al. Prevention of preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction with aspirin started in early pregnancy: a meta-analysis. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;116(2 Pt 1):402-414.
6/9/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116522/Hypertensive-disorders-of-pregnancy : Qin JZ, Pang LH, Li MJ, Fan XJ, Huang RD, Chen HY. Obstetric complications in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013;11:56
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 8/9/2018