HELLP syndrome is a dangerous condition when pregnant women experience interference with red blood cells, impaired liver function, and low platelets. HELLP syndrome is usually experienced by pregnant women aged over 34 years or have a history of preeclampsia.
HELLP syndrome is an abbreviation of three main conditions that occur in sufferers, namely rupture of red blood cells or hemolysis (H), liver damage or elevated liver enzymes (EL), and decreased platelet count or low platelets count (LP). This syndrome is rare and dangerous for both the pregnant woman and the fetus.
HELLP syndrome generally occurs in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy . However, in rare cases, HELLP syndrome can occur before entering the 3rd trimester or even within 48 hours to 1 week after delivery.
Causes of HELLP Syndrome
The cause of HELLP syndrome is not known with certainty. However, it has been suggested that HELLP syndrome is triggered by preeclampsia or eclampsia. Another trigger is antiphospholipid syndrome , which is a condition that causes blood clots.
The following factors can also increase the risk of pregnant women suffering from HELLP syndrome:
- Suffering from hypertension
- Over 35 years old
- Experiencing obesity
- Have a history of preeclampsia or eclampsia in a previous pregnancy
- Have diabetes
- Suffering from kidney disease
Symptoms of HELLP Syndrome
Common signs and symptoms of HELLP syndrome include:
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
- Swelling of the face or arms
- Nausea and vomiting
When to see a doctor
Immediately check with your doctor if you experience the above symptoms, especially if they are accompanied by:
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision
- Severe stomach pain
- Hard to breathe
Symptoms of HELLP syndrome can mimic common signs of pregnancy, such as headaches, nausea, and body aches. Therefore, routine pregnancy control needs to be carried out so that doctors can immediately detect and provide treatment if HELLP syndrome occurs.
Diagnosis of HELLP Syndrome
The doctor will conduct questions and answers regarding the symptoms that are felt. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination and check the condition of the fetus.
To determine whether the patient has HELLP syndrome, the doctor will carry out the following examinations:
- Blood tests , to check red blood cells, platelets, and liver function
- Urine test, to check the level of protein in the urine, which is often high in people with HELLP syndrome
- Gynecological ultrasound, to check the condition of the fetus
- Cardiotocography (CTG), to check the fetal heart rate
HELLP Syndrome Treatment
Treatment for HELLP syndrome depends on the gestational age and the severity of the symptoms experienced by the patient. However, basically the baby must be removed from the womb immediately so that the lives of the mother and baby are saved.
At a gestational age of less than 34 weeks, the doctor will focus on the maturation of lung function in the fetus. Next, it will be decided whether the delivery procedure can be carried out or not.
The following are treatments for HELLP syndrome that can be given by doctors, before the delivery process is ready:
- Complete rest in the hospital, with regular supervision by doctors and nurses
- Monitor the condition of the fetus closely
- Blood transfusion given when the number of red blood cells is below normal
- Administration of drugs, such as corticosteroids to accelerate the maturation of the fetal lungs, antihypertensive drugs, to anticonvulsant drugs such as magnesium sulfate
HELLP syndrome sufferers will be directed to have a normal delivery, especially in patients with healthy cervix and gestational age that has reached 34 weeks. Caesarean section will be avoided because of the risk of causing bleeding due to too low platelet count.
HELLP syndrome complications
HELLP syndrome that is not treated immediately can cause complications, such as:
- Torn liver
- Acute kidney failure
- Pulmonary edema (fluid buildup in the lungs)
- Continuous bleeding during labour
- Placenta detached prematurely ( placenta abruption )
- Death of mother or baby
Prevention of HELLP Syndrome
HELLP syndrome is difficult to prevent, because the cause is not known with certainty. The best way that can be done is to maintain health before and during pregnancy. In addition, there are other efforts that can be made, such as:
- Do routine pregnancy checks
- Tell your doctor if you have ever had a high-risk pregnancy, have HELLP syndrome, preeclampsia, or hypertension
Apart from seeing a doctor, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle so you don't experience preeclampsia. The way that can be done is:
- Lose weight if you are obese
- Control blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough rest and sleep
- Adopt a low salt diet
- Avoid consuming caffeine