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eclampsia (ĭklămpˈsēə), term applied to toxic complications that can occur late in pregnancy. Toxemia of pregnancy occurs in 10% to 20% of pregnant women; symptoms include headache, vertigo, visual disturbances, vomiting, hypertension, and edema. The four categories of hypertension during pregnancy are pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, chronic hypertension, and transient hypertension. Pre-eclampsia, which occurs late in pregnancy, is characterized by decreased cardiac output and increased blood vessel resistance. It may be prevented with calcium supplements and low-dose aspirin, and a cesarian section is often safer than natural childbirth. Only 5% of of women with pre-eclampsia progress to eclampsia, which is accompanied by convulsions and coma. To avoid renal and cardiovascular damage of the mother and to prevent fetal damage, the condition is treated by termination of pregnancy.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a serious disease occurring during pregnancy, labor, or the postpartum period. Eclampsia is a late stage of toxemia of pregnancy. The condition is characterized by convulsions that develop in a definite sequence. Slight fibrillar contractions of the facial muscles (15–30 seconds) are followed by tonic spasms of the total skeletal musculature and loss of consciousness (15–20 seconds). Clonic muscular spasms of the trunk and limbs occur, and, finally, the woman lapses into a brief or prolonged coma. Consciousness returns gradually. In particularly severe cases, eclampsia may occur without convulsions (comatous forms). Eclampsia is often manifested by only a few convulsions, and high blood pressure may not be a symptom. Death may occur during or after convulsions as a result of pulmonary edema, hemorrhages into the brain, and asphyxia. The fetus often dies in utero from hypoxia. The prognosis depends on the number and duration of the convulsions or on the duration of the coma.

Current treatment of eclampsia is based on principles developed by the Soviet obstetrician-gynecologist V. V. Stroganov in 1928. Total physical and mental rest is prescribed. Functioning of the vital organs is restored: Drugs are administered to decrease the excitability of the central nervous system, to lower blood pressure, and to stimulate urination. Oxygen is administered in cases of pronounced hypoxia, and labor is induced quickly but cautiously. The patient should not be moved during convulsions or while in a coma. Prompt hospitalization is required as soon as consciousness is regained. Prophylaxis includes the prevention of advanced toxemia and prompt hospital treatment of neuropathy and preeclampsia.


Nikolaev, A. P. Pozdnie toksikozy beremennykh. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A disorder occurring during the latter half of pregnancy, characterized by elevated blood pressure, edema, proteinuria, and convulsions or coma.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Pathol a toxic condition of unknown cause that sometimes develops in the last three months of pregnancy, characterized by high blood pressure, abnormal weight gain and convulsions
2. another name for milk fever (in cattle)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
According to the prevailing, forced dilatation theory, a rapid rise in blood pressure (BP), which exceeds the upper limit of cerebral autoregulation, leads to the blood brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction, cerebral vasodilatation and local hyperperfusion, manifested by vasogenic edema present in 93-100% of eclamptic women.
In eclamptic women, however, the median gestational ages for perinatal deaths and survivors were term (37 versus 38 weeks).
They linked their fear and stress to the complications they experienced, including haemorrhage, premature labour and eclamptic fits.
The average time from index pregnancy was not significantly different between the formerly eclamptic and normotensive groups (7 years vs.
While 96 placebo takers developed eclampsia and 20 of them died, just 40 women receiving the drug experienced eclamptic seizures and just 11 of these died, the researchers report in the June 1 Lancet.
Magnesium sulphate treatment is widely used in the US for eclamptic conditions but much less commonly in the UK.
Mrs Roberts, who was living in Ruthin at the time, suffered two eclamptic fits which left her with brain damage and severe paralysis.
She suffered a life- threatening eclamptic fit after the birth, and in the following two years struggled to overcome glandular fever and ME.
The brain may also be the seat of edema, in an eclamptic patient, or a cerebral thrombosis and hemorrhage.
After seeing an underweight woman with no edema and high blood pressure go into an eclamptic seizure in front of me, for example, I will never risk doing a homebirth with a client who has high blood pressure.
She had a history of preeclampsia followed by a spontaneous vaginal delivery and an eclamptic seizure in the postpartum period three years previously.