Dr. MJ Bazos, Patient
HELLP Syndrome and
What is HELLP syndrome?
HELLP syndrome is a rare but serious illness in
pregnancy. This illness can start quickly, most often in the last 3 months of
pregnancy (the third trimester). It can also start soon after you have your
baby. HELLP stands for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzyme levels and a Low
Platelet count. These are problems that can occur in women with this syndrome.
Women with HELLP syndrome may have bleeding
problems, liver problems and blood pressure problems that can hurt both the
mother and the baby.
Who gets HELLP syndrome?
We don't know the cause of HELLP syndrome. We
also don't know who will get it. Any pregnant woman may get this illness.
Most women who will get HELLP have blood
pressure problems before they get HELLP syndrome. (But you can get HELLP
syndrome even if your blood pressure is normal.)
You're more likely to get HELLP syndrome if
you're white and over 25 years of age. You are also more likely to get it if you
have had children before or if you had a problem with a pregnancy in the past.
How can I tell if I have HELLP syndrome?
If you have HELLP syndrome, you may feel tired.
You may have pain in the upper right part of your belly. You may have bad
headaches, and nausea or vomiting. You may have swelling, especially in your
face and hands. Rarely, you may notice bleeding from your gums or other places.
Because many healthy pregnant women also have
these symptoms late in pregnancy, it may be hard to know for sure if you have
HELLP syndrome. Your doctor may order blood tests if you have these symptoms or
if your blood pressure is high.
How is HELLP syndrome treated?
The main treatment for HELLP is to deliver your
baby. This may have to be done before your due date. Most women with this
illness start to get better a couple of days after their babies are born.
If you aren't too sick, your doctor may wait a
few days before delivering your baby.
You may have to take a steroid. This medicine
helps both you and your baby.
If you have bleeding, you may need blood
transfusions or other treatments in the hospital.
Some women with HELLP syndrome get very sick.
Rarely, this illness is fatal.
What can I do to prevent HELLP
There is no way to prevent this illness. The
best thing you can do is see your doctor regularly and tell your doctor about
your symptoms at every prenatal visit.
If you have HELLP syndrome during one pregnancy,
you can have it again during your next pregnancy. The illness is usually less
severe the second time.