What is eclampsia?

Eclampsia comes from the Greek word for lightning. It describes the generalised fitting and loss of consciousness that occurrs in severe pre-eclampsia, usually as a result of very high blood pressure and the protein component of your blood leaking out into brain and other tissues through damaged blood vessels. It is potentially dangerous. Although the fits themselves are not commonly fatal, extremely high blood pressure may cause a stroke or heart damage. This condition is mercifully rare but needs emergency treatment if it does occur, usually using intravenous blood pressure drugs and anti-convulsants (ie drugs to prevent fits). It is to detect pre-eclampsia, as early as possible, that your blood pressure and urine are checked at each antenatal visit.
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