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Health & Pregnancy

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Preeclampsia - Symptoms

Although you may have other symptoms, you will not be diagnosed with preeclampsia unless you also have one or both of the following:

  • Your systolic blood pressure (the top number of your blood pressure reading) is over 140, or your diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) is over 90, or both, for two measurements taken at least 4 hours apart.
  • A urine test shows that you have too much protein in your urine.

Other symptoms of mild preeclampsia may include:

  • Swelling of the hands and face that doesn't go away during the day. (If you have no other symptoms of preeclampsia, this swelling is probably a sign of normal pregnancy.)
  • Rapid weight gain-more than 2 lb (0.9 kg) a week or 6 lb (2.7 kg) a month.
  • Bleeding from a cut or injury that lasts longer than usual.

Severe preeclampsia

In severe preeclampsia, systolic blood pressure is over 160, or diastolic blood pressure is over 110, or both.

As blood circulation to the organs decreases, more severe symptoms can develop, including:

  • A severe headache that will not go away with medicine such as acetaminophen.
  • Blurred or dimming vision, spots in the visual field, or periods of blindness.
  • Decreased urination-less than 2 cups (500 mL) in 24 hours.
  • Lasting belly pain or tenderness, especially on the upper right side.
  • Problems breathing, especially when lying flat.
  • HELLP syndrome. This is a life-threatening liver disorder. It is usually related to preeclampsia. Get emergency medical treatment if you have several symptoms of HELLP syndrome, such as headaches, vision problems, fatigue, or belly pain.


When preeclampsia leads to seizures, it is called eclampsia.

Eclampsia is life-threatening for both a mother and her baby. During a seizure, the oxygen supply to the baby is drastically reduced.

Call 911 any time a pregnant woman has a seizure.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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