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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
The team from the Department of Women & Children's Health at King's carried out a trial comparing the current and new methods in women suffering from pre-eclampsia at 34-37 weeks of pregnancy, to see if they could reduce adverse outcomes for the mother such as hypertension, and without impacting substantially on the baby.
The study drew its basis from a trial comparing the current and new methods in women suffering from pre-eclampsia at 34-37 weeks of pregnancy and was published in the journal 'The Lancet'.
This resulted in a high sensitivity for preterm pre-eclampsia (76%), but a relatively low specificity (55%)15.
A new speedy test Test medics for pre-eclampsia which is 95% accurate does just that.
Experts examined data for 6.3 million women in English hospitals between 1997 and 2015, during which time 276,389 pregnancies were affected by high blood pressure and 223,715 by pre-eclampsia. The study found that the risk of developing a serious heart and circulatory condition increased by 45 per cent if a woman had high blood pressure during pregnancy, or by 69 per cent for women who had experienced pre-eclampsia.
"A woman has a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia if her blood pressure was high before pregnancy, her blood pressure was high in a previous pregnancy and/ or she had a medical problem or a condition that affects the immune system.
Expert Dr Pat O'Brien said: "Pre-eclampsia occurs when the placenta doesn't work properly.
Delivery is the only cure for pre-eclampsia. Management outcome depends on gestational age and severity of the disease.
Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are at times treated as components of a common syndrome.
[5] However, the incidence of headache is far greater in patients with pre-eclampsia; a case-control study showed an odds ratio of 4.95 (95% confidence interval 2.47-9.92) of headache being more frequent in pre-eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia (PE) is one of the leading causes of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity worldwide.