HELLP Syndrome

About 4 to 12 percent of women who develop severe preeclampsia develop a condition called HELLP syndrome, usually in the last trimester. HELLP stands for the following:

  • Hemolysis (the breaking down of red blood cells)

  • Elevated Liver enzymes

  • Low platelet count

Symptoms of HELLP include vomiting, nausea, headache, and pain in the right upper abdominal area due to problems with liver bloating. It is possible to experience this syndrome before the classic symptoms of pre-eclampsia even begin to manifest. Many symptoms of the HELLP syndrome are easily mistaken for the flu or for possible gallbladder problems. Some women develop HELLP syndrome without ever having preeclampsia, within two to seven days after delivery. Treatment for HELLP includes medication to help control blood pressure and medications to help prevent seizures and, occasionally, platelet transfusions. Basically, the only real cure for HELLP is delivery of the baby. Most women who develop HELLP end up delivering their babies early to prevent any serious complications. It is important to listen to your body, and if you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

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