Pre-eclampsia is the commonest type of hypertensive disorder of pregnancy and the focus of much of the discussion in this section (see Table 19.2). It usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy (after 20 weeks of gestation, but most commonly after 28 weeks). The appearance of protein in the woman's urine (proteinuria) is a danger sign. Significant proteinura is defined as a positive urine dipstick test for protein with a result greater than or equal to +2 on the scale supplied with the dipsticks.

Proteinuria is pronounced 'proh-teen-you-ree-ah'.

You will learn about these symptoms of severity in Section 19.4 later.

Table 19.2 Characteristics of types of hypertension and pre-eclampsia

TypeRaised blood pressure (measured twice, 6 hours apart)ProteinuriaSymptoms of severity
Gestational hypertension (develops during pregnancy, resolves afterwards) Above 140/90 mmHg No significant proteinuria None
Mild pre-eclampsia Between 140/90 and 160/110 mmHg No significant proteinuria None
Severe pre-eclampsia Greater than or equal to 160/110 mmHg With or without significant proteinura (urine dipstick test result greater than or equal to +2) Headache, blurred vision, epigastric burning pain, decreased urine output, decreased or absent fetal kick
Superimposed pre-eclampsia Higher than before the pregnancy in a known chronic hypertensive woman Significant or worsening proteinuria With or without symptoms of severity
Last modified: Monday, 14 July 2014, 10:17 AM