HELLP Syndrome: What Are The Symptoms?

A close friend of mine is 12 weeks pregnant and is at risk for HELLP syndrome. She had bleeding due to complete placenta previa and has blood pressure that borders on high as well as continual cramping, constant extreme fatigue, resting pulse up to 111 and the sensation that her blood pressure will make her eyes pop out. She has been referred by her obstetrician back to her family doctor for an evaluation of the pulse rate


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

I never feel very good about mothers who develop such symptoms so early in their pregnancies. But it would be very early for HELLP syndrome to develop, as this is usually a complication of preeclampsia, which typically develops after 20 weeks or so. And symptoms of HELLP syndrome would include pain in the upper middle or upper right-hand side of the abdomen, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Some women with HELLP may have blood in the urine or stool. Blood pressure may or may not be elevated and there may or may not be protein in the urine. Lab tests would show elevated levels of liver enzymes, low platelets and evidence of hemolysis (red blood cell breakage).

Your friend's symptoms certainly do deserve some close scrutiny. She may be suffering from a viral illness or perhaps a thyroid problem. She should have ultrasounds to see if the placenta previa resolves. I agree that something is going on here, and if she is not getting the kind of care she needs, she should change providers.

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