The HELLP Syndrome And What You Should Know About It

The Edmonton Journal recently ran a story about a woman’s experiences with the HELLP Syndrome and how it turned her low risk pregnancy into a high risk one, requiring the mother to forsake her birthing plan in a birthing tub for a C section.

hellp syndromeSo what is the HELLP Syndrome? It is a collective term used to describe a life-threatening obstetric complication, which is like preeclampsia but which incorporates three components – Hemolytic Anemia, Elevated Liver Enzymes and Low Platelet count. Sometimes HELLP can also develop after the birth.

Symptoms for HELLP Syndrome to look out for are –

  • Many who go on to have this condition are already identified as having gestational hypertension or preeclampsia.
  • In many cases, women experience headaches that gradually increase in severity.
  • There is often blurred vision.
  • Most women report malaise – general discomfort or uneasiness.
  • Some have nausea and vomiting.
  • A majority of women report feeling a ‘band’ like pain in the upper abdomen.
  • There could also be paresthesia which is the feeling of tingling in the extremities.
  • There could be edema in some cases which is fluid retention and swelling due to this.

Misdiagnosis of HELLP could mean liver failure and even death in rare cases.


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