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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Detection and Management of Preeclampsia: Current Laboratory Testing and Emerging Biomarkers. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Classification and Characteristics of Preeclampsia (PE)

Although PE may develop gradually, it often starts abruptly after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The disorder may range from mild to severe. Mild PE occurs in 75% of the cases whereas severe PE occurs in 25%. Typically, mild PE, severe PE and eclampsia can be characterized as follows:
Mild PE can be defined as the presence of hypertension (blood pressure >140/90) on 2 occasions at least 6 hours apart, but without evidence of any organ damage in the patient.
Severe PE is defined as PE with the presence of one or more of the following symptoms or signs:
  • Systolic blood pressure of 160 mm Hg or higher or diastolic blood pressure of 110 mm Hg or higher on 2 occasions at least 6 hours apart
  • Proteinuria of more than 5 g in a 24-hour collection or more than 3+ on 2 random urine samples collected at least 4 hours apart
  • Pulmonary edema or cyanosis
  • Oliguria (<400 mL in 24 hours)
  • Persistent headaches
  • Epigastric pain and/or impaired liver function
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid level), decreased fetal growth, or placental abruption
Eclampsia: If preeclampsia-associated seizures develop and cannot be attributable to any other disorder, then the disorder is called eclampsia.