What is Preeclampsia?

Dr. Nguyen, Director of OB-GYN Services


Preeclampsia is one of the most serious complications during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is high blood pressure during pregnancy or soon after delivery, which can cause seizures, kidney and liver damage, and in some cases, death. It’s on the rise in Texas and the leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide.

This is why OB-GYNs emphasize the importance of regular visits with your doctor, before you try to get pregnant, during your pregnancy and even after delivery.

Sometimes there are no signs of preeclampsia, but some of the key symptoms may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling of face or hands
  • A severe headache that will not go away
  • Seeing spots in your vision
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or shoulder
  • Nausea and vomiting (in the second half of pregnancy)
  • Sudden weight gain

If you experience any of the above symptoms during pregnancy or soon after delivery, contact your doctor or go to an emergency room, immediately.

It is unclear why some women develop preeclampsia and others do not. Risk factors that place some patients at an increased risk include first-time pregnancies, women with preeclampsia in previous pregnancies, those who had high blood pressure, lupus, diabetes or kidney disease prior to pregnancy, being over age 40 and obesity.

If you have chronic high blood pressure, you should always see your doctor before planning a pregnancy to be sure you are on the right medication. At Legacy, we identify patients at high risk for preeclampsia and start them on an aspirin regimen, early in the pregnancy. This has been shown to decrease the risk for preeclampsia.

How your health care provider manages and treats preeclampsia depends on multiple factors such as how high your blood pressure is, how far along you are and what your ultrasound findings show. The treatment plan is customized to the patient’s needs and it may include medication, bed rest, hospitalization or an early delivery.

Legacy’s OB/GYN services are currently available at eight Legacy clinic locations throughout Houston and Beaumont.