Pregnancy

HELLP Syndrome in Pregnancy

During pregnancy, HELLP syndrome is a severe condition experienced by many pregnant women. HELLP syndrome is a group of symptoms occurring in pregnant women who have (H) Hemolysis, the breakdown of red blood cells, (EL) Elevated Liver Enzymes, and (LP) low platelet count.  It is very difficult to diagnose in the early stages of pregnancy but during the later stages of pregnancy, HELLP syndrome can arise. It usually happens during the third trimester of pregnancy but sometimes can occur after childbirth. It was diagnosed by Dr. Louis Weinstein in the year 1982. This article focuses on the causes, symptoms and treatment of HELLP syndrome in pregnancy.

Causes of HELLP Syndrome in Pregnancy

  • Some pregnant women do not have a history of any of the conditions involved in HELLP syndrome; however, there is no specific known cause for it.
  • Women who experienced HELLP syndrome during their first pregnancy are more likely to experience it during their next pregnancy.
  • Women who have experienced pre-eclampsia during their pregnancy are also more likely to experience HELLP syndrome.
  • Women who are obese and suffering from high blood pressure are prone to experiencing HELLP syndrome during pregnancy.

Symptoms/Descriptions of HELLP Syndrome in Pregnancy

  • Gestational hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, often accompanies HELLP syndrome.
  • Headache, blurry vision, vomiting, nausea, excessive weakness and pain around the upper abdomen are some of the symptoms.
  • The H in HELLP syndrome can manifest as hemolytic anemia, which causes a pregnant woman to experience pallor and weakness. This happens due to the presence of edema and paresthesia.
  • Hypertension is often mild in nature but if a pregnant woman is experiencing severe hypertension, it may lead to a rupture of blood vessels, which can be dangerous.
  • The syndrome is said to become eclampsia when symptoms are severe enough and the patient can experience seizures and slip into a coma. If this condition is left untreated, it may even lead to acute renal failure.

Treatment of HELLP Syndrome in Pregnancy

  • The treatment of HELLP syndrome in pregnancy depends upon many factors such as the medical history of the patient, severity of the symptoms, trimester of the pregnancy and overall health of the patient.  It should be monitored by a doctor.
  • To keep the patient under constant observation, the mother must be hospitalized.
  • With the help of medicines, a woman experiencing HELLP syndrome may be easily cured, as long as the use of medicine is not harmful to the mother or baby.
  • To control blood pressure, anti-hypertension drugs will be given to the patient.
  • Magnesium sulfate helps to prevent the occurrence of seizures.
  • If the symptoms of HELLP syndrome are severe enough and harmful for the mother and/or the child, then the patient’s doctor may opt for early delivery of the baby.

HELLP syndrome is a serious complication seen in only about 0.6% of all pregnancies.

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