Pre-Eclampsia

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Nicole McLean RN
Understanding Preeclampsia
Drexel University

Understanding Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. “Preeclampsia complicates 3-5% of all pregnancies and continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality for both mother and infant” (Pettit & Brown, 2012, p.6). The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown. It is usually diagnosed after 20 weeks gestation. A diagnosis is made by elevated blood pressures and with or without proteinuria. The treatment of this disorder is geared towards management of symptoms, preventing seizures and controlling hypertension. I chose this topic because I am a labor and delivery nurse and find this to be a popular disorder of pregnancy. This disorder is very common among the nulliparity (first pregnancy) population. “Although the exact cause of preeclampsia remains unknown, much research effort has been exerted on the study of pathophysiological mechanisms” (Townsend & Drummond, 2011, p.245). Pettit & Brown (2012) found that the placenta and the re-modeling of the uterine arteries is a factor in preeclamptic disease.

Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed on a routine pre-natal visit during blood pressure checks and urine dips. Urine dips show the presence of protein in the urine. According to ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) the criteria for diagnosing preeclampsia is a systolic blood pressure > 140mmHg or diastolic blood pressure > 90mmHg that occurs after 20 weeks gestation in a woman with previously normal blood pressure. Also, the presence of proteinuria, which is the urinary excretion of 0.3g of protein or higher in a 24 – hour urine specimen (ACOG bulletin 33, 2002, p.160).

The goal of treatment is aimed towards preventing seizures and blood pressure management. “The long held principle that delivery is the only cure for preeclampsia prevails” (Townsend & Drummond, 2011, p.299). “Thus, interventions...
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