A rare, but serious condition that develops in late pregnancy, during labour, or after delivery. Eclampsia is characterized by hypertension, proteinuria, oedema, and the development of seizures; it threatens the life of both the mother and the baby. Eclampsia occurs as a complication of moderate or severe (but not mild) pre-eclampsia, The warning symptoms of impending eclampsia include headaches, confusion, blurred or disturbed vision, and abdominal pain. If untreated, seizures can then occur and may be followed by coma. Levels of blood platelets may fall severely, resulting in bleeding; liver and kidney function may be affected. Careful monitoring of blood pressure and proteinuria throughout pregnancy ensures prompt treatment of impending eclampsia. Immediate delivery, often by caesarian section, together with antihypertensive and anticonvulsant drugs is needed. Patients may need intensive care to prevent the development of complications such as kidney failure. Blood pressure often returns to normal in the months after delivery, but it may remain high. There is a risk of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies.


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