Like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia is a condition that only appears during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes causes elevated blood sugar levels and can result in preeclampsia which involves type of high blood pressure.
Sometimes pregnancy hormones can disrupt your body's ability to use insulin. Insulin is the hormone that converts blood sugar into usable energy. When it can't perform effectively, blood glucose (sugar) levels rise.
Insulin resistance can cause high blood glucose levels and can eventually lead to gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a risk factor for preeclampsia. Your risk for gestational diabetes is highest if you already have preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia results in an escalation in blood pressure, as well as high levels of protein in the urine or blood, as well as swelling in the face, feet and hands. Preeclampsia is more prevalent among women with gestational diabetes, and among overweight women.
There are many factors that can increase the risk for preeclampsia.
Periodontal disease or urinary tract infections may leave a woman more vulnerable to preeclampsia. If you have been subject to chronic high blood pressure, kidney disease, lupus, migraines or rheumatoid arthritis or other chronic conditions you are at high risk for preeclampsia.
Women at risk for preeclampsia may have a family history of preeclampsia, or may have had it in an earlier pregnancy. Women pregnant for the first time are at highest risk for preeclampsia.
Women who have become pregnant by a new partner will be at higher risk for preeclampsia than women who are pregnant a second time by the same partner. A multiple pregnancy (carrying twins, triplets or more) brings with it a higher risk for preeclampsia than a single pregnancy.
Women between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age are at lower risk for preeclampsia than women who are younger or older.
Preeclampsia must be carefully monitored to prevent serious complications such as seizures. Once preeclampsia is on the scene, the only way to end it is by delivering the baby.
If the pregnancy is at less than approximately 37 weeks, and if the preeclampsia is mild, you may be able to buy some time by resting in bed at home. You can help things by drinking more water and eating less salt. Your doctor will want frequent appointments with you to monitor the situation.
At or beyond 37 weeks, your doctor may recommend induction of labor or a cesarean section.
Generally delivering the baby begins the resolution of preeclampsia. In most cases within six weeks of delivering the baby will see the disappearance of high blood pressure, protein in the urine and all other symptoms of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia. Mayoclinic.com. Web. October 5, 2011.
Early Detection: Gestational Diabetes and Preeclampsia. Parents.com. Web. October 5, 2011.
Cause of preeclampsia. Preeclampsiasymptoms.com. Web. October 5, 2011.
Preeclampsia Linked to Higher Weight, Insulin, and Glucose Levels. Diabetes.org. Web. October 5, 2011.
Preeclampsia. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Web. October 5, 2011.
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Reviewed October 6, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN