Preeclampsia natural treatment and prevention
July 25 2017
by Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy characterized by elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine that occurs after the 20th week. Preeclampsia happens when vessels in the motherís womb constrict, cutting off blood and oxygen to the fetus. It occurs in late pregnancy and produces a spike in blood pressure. Pre-eclampsia (previously called toxemia) is defined to exist when a pregnant woman with gestational hypertension develops proteinuria. Originally, edema was considered part of the syndrome of pre-eclampsia, but presently the former two symptoms are sufficient for a diagnosis of pre-eclampsia. Endothelial dysfunction may underlie preeclampsia.


Prevention of Preeclampsia - Multivitamins  and diet
Women who are considering becoming pregnant may reduce their risk of developing preeclampsia by taking a multivitamin supplement regularly three months before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy. Women who use multivitamins regularly have a reduction in preeclampsia risk, particularly for women who were not overweight prior to pregnancy. Because multivitamins contain many nutrients, it is difficult to know the exact mechanism by which the risk of preeclampsia is reduced. A previous study had found that vitamin C and E supplements given to healthy pregnant women do not reduce their risk of developing preeclampsia. Apparently, it takes more than vitamins C and E to be helpful in the prevention of preeclampsia.
    Pregnant women with type 1 diabetes who maintain good control of their blood sugar levels during the second trimester are at decreased risk for developing preeclampsia.


Normal-weight women who use multivitamins around the time they conceive are less likely to develop preeclampsia. Dr. Janet M. Catov of the University of Pittsburgh reports using vitamin and mineral supplements during this periconceptional period -- the four weeks before and eight weeks after a woman got pregnant -- didn't influence preeclampsia risk for heavier women. There is some evidence that prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements may cut preeclampsia risk, but findings have been "equivocal," Dr. Janet M. Catov believes multivitamin supplementation around the time of conception may be especially important because the implantation of the fertilized egg and growth of the placenta occur at this time. Both may play a role in the development of preeclampsia. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2009.


In a 2011 study from Mexico, women who ate daily food bars containing the amino acid L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins during pregnancy had a much lower incidence of preeclampsia than women who ate bars containing the antioxidant vitamins alone or bars containing neither supplement. BMJ Online First, May 19, 2011.


Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013. The nitric oxide pathway and possible therapeutic options in pre-eclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious multisystem disorder with diverse clinical manifestations. Although not causal, endothelial dysfunction and reduced nitric oxide bioavailability are likely to play an important role in the maternal and fetal pathophysiology of this condition. Lack of treatment modalities that can target the underlying pathophysiological changes and and reverse the endothelial dysfunction frequently leads to iatrogenic preterm delivery of the fetus, causing neonatal morbidity and mortality, and the condition itself is associated with short and longer term maternal morbidity and mortality. Drugs that target various components of the nitric oxide:soluble guanylyl cyclase pathway can help to increase NO bioavailability. The purpose of this review is to outline the current status of clinical research involving these therapeutic modalities in the context of preeclampsia, with the focus being on nitric oxide donors including organic nitrates and S-nitrosothiols; L-arginine, the endogenous precursor of NO; inhibitors of cGMP breakdown including sildenafil, and other novel inhibitors of NO donor metabolism. The advantages and limitations of each modality are outlined and scope for development into established therapeutic options for preeclampsia is explored.


Fiber and preeclampsia
Pregnant women who increase their fiber intake may reduce their risk of developing preeclampsia. American Journal of Hypertension, August 2008.


Vitamin D and pre-eclampsia
Moms-to-be who have low vitamin D levels during pregnancy appear to be at increased risk for suffering from pre-eclampsia symptoms.


Preeclampsia and blood sugar control
Among pregnant women with type 1 diabetes, HbA1c levels during the second trimester predict the risk of preeclampsia, according to a report in the December issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Achieving excellent glycemic control in pregnancy may reduce the risk of preeclampsia in women with pregestational diabetes.


Heart disease risk
J Women's Health (Larchmt) 2016. Preeclampsia and Vascular Function: A Window to Future Cardiovascular Disease Risk. Growing evidence indicates that preeclampsia results from vascular dysfunction, which also increases the risk for future cardiovascular events. Until recently, preeclampsia was considered a disorder limited to pregnancy, which fully resolved with the delivery of the placenta; however, it is now clear that women with a history of preeclampsia have approximately double the risk of future cardiovascular events compared to women with normotensive pregnancies.

Also known as toxemia, preeclampsia affects about 7% of first pregnancies and is a leading cause of premature delivery and maternal and fetal death. Preeclampsia is more prevalent in the developing world, where it accounts for up to 80% of maternal deaths. And while treatment is more readily available in developed countries, preeclampsia remains the leading cause of maternal death. Infants born to mothers with preeclampsia have a risk of mortality five times greater than those born to women with normal pregnancies. In the United States alone, nearly 15% of preterm deliveries are a result of preeclampsia.


Preeclampsia symptom
Preeclampsia can produce these symptoms: edema (an accumulation of fluid in various parts of the body that causes swelling), headaches, weight gain of more than two pounds a week.

Sign of preeclampsia, what do people notice
Preeclampsia complications include hypertension, water retention and protein in the urine. Untreated, preeclampsia may progress to the far more serious eclampsia, which can lead to seizures, coma and death.


Future Complications
Pregnant women who develop preeclampsia and who have a low birth weight infant appear to have an increased risk of later kidney problems. The risk of kidney disease is highest in women with both factors. It is well known that preeclampsia is associated with later cardiovascular disease in the mother.


Q. Would a dhea supplement or pregnenolone supplement help with preeclampsia? What about CoQ10?
     A. I don't know. I prefer focusing on eating cold water fish with epa and dha fish oils.

Q. Does water immersion help with symptoms of preeclampsia?
   A. For pregnant women who develop preeclampsia, water immersion does little to correct the problem.