Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy - Exams and Tests
High blood pressure (hypertension) and
preeclampsia are typically found during regular
prenatal checkups. Because these conditions can get worse rapidly and can be
life-threatening to you and your fetus, it's important that you have regular
checkups during your pregnancy.
Routine prenatal tests
Certain tests are given at
each prenatal visit to monitor for high blood pressure and preeclampsia. These
Tests for pregnant women considered high-risk for preeclampsia
Other tests may also be used to monitor for signs of
- Blood tests to check for blood
abnormalities (as in
HELLP syndrome) and for signs of kidney damage.
(Elevated uric acid in the blood is often the earliest sign of
- Creatinine clearance test, which
requires both a blood sample and a 24-hour urine collection, to assess kidney
- 24-hour urine collection test to assess protein in the
Tests for women who have preeclampsia
If results from
one or more of the above tests suggest that you have preeclampsia, you and your
fetus will be closely monitored throughout the remainder of your pregnancy. The
type and frequency of testing depend on the severity of the preeclampsia and
the time remaining until your pregnancy reaches full term (37 to 42 completed
weeks). Testing is more frequent and extensive when preeclampsia is severe and
the pregnancy is far from full-term (less than 36 weeks).
Tests that may be given to assess your health if you
have preeclampsia include:
physical exam for signs and symptoms of preeclampsia
that is getting worse.
- Blood tests to check for blood abnormalities
and kidney damage.
- A creatinine clearance test, which requires both
blood and urine samples, to assess kidney function.
Tests for women who have eclampsia
If you have a
seizure (eclampsia), one or more of the following tests may be
done after delivery to assess your brain function and condition:
Tests for the fetus
If you develop high blood
pressure, preeclampsia, or both, your fetus's health also will be closely
monitored. The more severe your condition, the more frequent the fetal testing,
ranging from once a week to daily.
Tests commonly used to monitor
fetal health include:
amniocentesis is used to check fetal well-being if
preterm delivery is being considered as a treatment option. For this procedure,
a needle is inserted into your abdomen to collect amniotic fluid from inside
the uterus. The fluid is then checked for chemical signs that the fetus's lungs