HELLP syndrome

HELLP Syndrome

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HELLP syndrome

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HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening obstetric complication usually considered to be a variant of pre-eclampsia. Both conditions usually occur during the later stages of pregnancy, or sometimes after childbirth.

HELLP is an abbreviation of the main findings:

Signs and symptoms

Often, a patient who develops HELLP syndrome has already been followed up for pregnancy-induced hypertension (gestational hypertension), or is suspected to develop pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and proteinuria). Up to 8% of all cases present after delivery.

There is gradual but marked onset of headaches (30%), blurred vision, malaise (90%), nausea/vomiting (30%), "band pain" around the upper abdomen (65%) and paresthesia (tingling in the extremities). Edema may occur but its absence does not exclude HELLP syndrome. Arterial hypertension is a diagnostic requirement, but may be mild. Rupture of the liver capsule and a resultant hematoma may occur. If the patient has a seizure or coma, the condition has progressed into full-blown eclampsia.

Disseminated intravascular coagulation is also seen in about 20% of all women with HELLP syndrome, and in 84% when HELLP is complicated by acute renal failure.Sibai, BM. Acute renal...
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