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An explanation of the severe form of Preeclampsia that Jess developed. Starting at 4pm she was having abdominal pain and by 1:30am we were checked in the hospital.

We took this explanation directly from our hospital discharge paperwork. Bold items are symptoms that Jessica experienced.

HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening liver disorder thought to be a type of severe preeclampsia during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It develops after the 20th week of pregnancy. The name HELLP stands for:

  • H - hemolytic anemia, hemolysis (destruction of blood cells).

  • EL - elevated liver enzymes (sign of liver damage).

  • LP - low platelet count (blood cells that help stop bleeding).

HELLP syndrome often occurs without warning and can be difficult to recognize. In most cases, HELLP syndrome occurs before 35 weeks of pregnancy, but it can also develop right after childbirth. It can be fatal to both the mother and baby.


The cause of HELLP syndrome is unknown at this time.


  • A headache.

  • Blurry vision.

  • Pain in the upper right abdomen.

  • Shoulder, neck, and upper body pain.

  • Fatigue.

  • Feeling sick.

  • Seizures.

  • Extreme swelling or weight gain


Blood tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis. These tests include:

  • A complete blood count.

  • Liver enzymes test (liver function tests).

  • Kidney function test.

  • Measurement of salts in your blood (electrolytes).

  • Blood coagulation tests.


  • The main treatment for HELLP syndrome is to deliver your baby as soon as possible. This may be done by giving you medicines to start contractions (induction of labor) or cesarean delivery.

  • Before delivery, you can be treated for a short time with an injection of magnesium sulphate. This medicine reduces muscle contractions and blocks the impulse from nerves to the muscles, which helps prevent seizures.

  • Medicines to lower and control blood pressure may also be used. Corticosteroids may be given to help your baby's lungs mature faster.

  • Your health care provider may recommend that you take one low-dose aspirin (81 mg) each day to help prevent high blood pressure during your pregnancy if you are at risk for preeclampsia. You may be at risk for preeclampsia if:

You had preeclampsia or eclampsia during a previous pregnancy.

Your baby did not grow as expected during a previous pregnancy.

You experienced pre term birth with a previous pregnancy.

You experienced a separation of the placenta from the uterus (placental abruption) during a previous pregnancy.

You experienced the loss of your baby during a previous pregnancy.

You are pregnant with more than one baby.

You have other medical conditions (such as diabetes or autoimmune disease).

Continuous medical management and monitoring of you and your baby is needed. This is true during pregnancy, during labor, during delivery, and after delivery (postpartum). A blood transfusion may be required if bleeding problems become severe. (Praise Jesus, Jess was not given any extra blood)

Document Released: 03/25/2008 Document Revised: 12/23/2014 Document Reviewed: 06/05/2014

Elsevier Interactive Patient Education ©2016 Elsevier Inc.

#hellp #explanations