Book an Appointment
+91-7899912611
pregnancy delivery

HELLP Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

  • 4.5 (1 Votes)
  • 11082 views

HELLP syndrome is a complication that arises during pregnancy It is characterized by hemolysis (destruction of RBC), low platelet count and elevated liver enzymes. Learn more about the symptoms, causes, risk, diagnosis, treatment and prevention available for HELLP syndrome.

HELLP Syndrome can be defined & characterized as hemolysis (H), elevated liver enzymes (EL) and low platelet count (LP) leading to a well known complication called pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Dr. Louis Weinstein first described the syndrome in 1982. HELLP Syndrome is often thought to be a variant of preeclampsia and its remains unclear. The name HELLP Syndrome is derived from three abnormalities namely: H - Hemolysis (break down of red blood cells), EL- Elevated liver enzymes (liver function) and LP- Low platelets count (platelet helps the blood to clot). HELLP Syndrome affects nearly 0.2 to 0.6 percent of pregnant women all over the world and can cause serious complication to a mother and baby if left untreated. It has been found that around 4-12 percent of pregnant woman who are diagnosed with preeclampsia are at a greater risk of developing HELLP Syndrome. Sometimes HELLP syndrome is misdiagnosed with other similar conditions like idiopathic/thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), hepatitis and gallbladder disease all of which are associated with bleeding disorder. A pregnant woman can experience these complications during the third trimester of pregnancy or within 48 hours of delivery.

Preeclampsia & the Symptoms

We should first have some knowledge about pre-eclampsia as a pregnancy complication, which can be characterized by high blood pressure and symptoms of organ damage, mainly, liver and kidneys. Pre-eclampsia can be fatal to both mother and fetus and usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman whose blood pressure has been normal. The doctor and mother can face many challenges during the pregnancy if pre-eclampsia is diagnosed at a very early stage of pregnancy. In this case, a baby needs more time to mature but there is always a risk of serious complications that need to be avoided.

preeclampsia

To prevent unawareness about the condition, one needs to monitor blood pressure of the expecting mother on a regular basis. Excessive protein in the urine, severe headaches, nausea vomiting, upper abdominal pain, decreased urine outputs and decreased platelet count, impaired liver functions and shortness of breath are all considered as other symptoms of pre-eclampsia that should be taken care of.

Symptoms of HELLP Syndrome

The symptoms of HELLP syndrome can be similar to pre-eclampsia, it can include the following symptoms:

  • Epigastria or abdominal pain accompanied by nausea
  • Vomiting, anemia, and backache
  • Some women can also suffer headache and visual/vision problems
  • Fatigue or malaise
  • Edema or swelling
  • Bleeding accompanied by severe headaches
  • Stroke and seizures
  • Hypertension (low blood pressure)

These symptoms may vary for different patients depending upon the severity of the condition. They are commonly mistaken as normal pregnancy symptoms, especially when they are not severe. These symptoms can be severe during nighttime and as the condition starts getting worse, a spontaneous hematoma (localized collection of blood outside the blood vessels) appears leading to the rupture of the liver capsule, which occurs, most frequently in the right lobe. The existence of any combinations of these symptoms, especially, sub capsular liver hematoma warns for an immediate check-up due to high morbidity & mortality rates of this condition.

Causes of HELLP Syndrome

What is the main cause of HELLP Syndrome is still unknown. This syndrome usually occurs in association with pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. Individuals who have had this syndrome earlier are at a greater risk of having it again. Most women who have high blood pressure usually get this syndrome however; one can also get this syndrome with normal blood pressure. Your odds may be higher in the following cases:

  • If a mother is older than 25 years, and being white
  • When a pregnant woman has high blood pressure 
  • When a woman has given birth two or more times before
  • Are Caucasian

causes of hellp syndrome

Risk Factors associated with HELLP

The HELLP syndrome can be genetic and is more likely to occur in females in their subsequentpregnancies. Elevated BMI and metabolic disorders also increase the risk of HELLP syndrome in female patients. Other risk factors include the females who are over the age of 30 years, Caucasian, and are overweight, women who have had previous pregnancies, who have a poor diet or diabetes and the females having the history of pre-eclampsia.

Diagnosis of HELLP Syndrome

The symptoms of HELLP Syndrome can encourage many other complications during pregnancy, so it is encouraged that doctors run a series of tests on a woman having complications during the third trimester of pregnancy. The following tests can be useful to diagnose HELLP Syndrome:

  • A series of blood tests, including liver function
  • Hemolysis
  • Blood pressure measurements
  • Urine tests to check for protein
  • Abnormal peripheral smear
  • Lactatedehydrogenase
  • Bilirubin level
  • Elevated liver Enzyme levels
  • Serum aspartate amniotransferase

Treatment’s to manage HELLP until delivery include the following:

  • Complete bed rest and admission into a medical facility to be monitored closely
  • Corticosteroid (to help babies lungs develop more rapidly)
  • Magnesium Sulfate (to help prevent seizures)
  • Blood transfusion if the platelet count gets too lower than the normal blood count

blood transfusion

  • Medications to control blood pressure
  • Tests including biophysical tests, sonograms, non stress tests, fetal movement evaluation
  • Fetal monitoring

In case the pregnancy is more than 34 weeks gestation or if the symptoms of HELLP have worsened, delivery is the recommended course of treatment.

Preventing HELLP syndrome

There is no specific solution to prevent HELLP Syndrome in pregnant women. The best way to treat HELLP Syndrome is the delivery of baby to prevent serious complications for baby and mother. Most of the side effects and symptoms of HELLP syndrome subside within the first 2-3 days of delivery.

Early diagnosis and treatment is the only way to cure complications as followed by the HELLP Syndrome. However, people can lower the risk by following certain measures:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Being observant about proper diet which means eating foods healthy for heart that consists of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein
  • Exercising regularly

The above mentioned are the only crucial ways to prevent HELLP Syndrome. HELLP syndrome does not require an expectant mother to go for an automatic cesarean, even though some situations like operative surgery may cause more complications due to blood clotting or excessive bleeding problems related to low platelet counts.

If you experience any of the symptoms or other associated risks, following a regular routine prenatal care is important so that the doctor can evaluate you promptly if you develop pre-eclampsia or HELLP syndrome. 
Join our Elawoman blog for more information and updates or visit our Pregnancy / Obstetrics category page to receive the latest updates on Pregnancy / Obstetrics.

If you seek an advice from a qualified health care professional regarding any medical question or condition, you can call us at +917899912611.

Dr. Astha Dayal

About The Author

Infertility Specialist, Obstetrician Dr. Astha Dayal
Gurgaon

Dr. Astha Dayal is an infertility specialist who has been practising for many years to help women conceive naturally as well as with the help of assisted techniques. Her extensive knowledge in Dysmenorrhea Treatment, High-Risk Pregnancy, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and Abortion and Infertility Treatments makes her one of the most preferred Gynecologists in Gurgaon. She completed MBBS and MD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from G B Pant Hospital and Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi in 2003 and 2008 respectively. Following this, she pursued MRCOG from Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London in 2011. She is also a member of World Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons (WALS), Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), London and Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI). You can get the contact details of Dr. Astha Dayal at elawoman.com

SOURCES AND REFERENCES:

  1. Which are the most fertile days to plan pregnancy pregnant woman, Elawoman - 2017
  2. First symptoms of pregnancy you need to understand nausea vomiting, Elawoman - 2017
  3. Are you pregnant - top 10 early pregnancy symptoms Fatigue, Elawoman - 2017
  4. Week 10 pregnancy, symptoms and what to expect pregnancies, Elawoman - 2017
  5. What is orthopedic surgery? surgery, Elawoman - 2018

1 Comment

user_img

Mushira Konkar

I am 30 weeks pregnant and very scared after reading this. I will visit my gynecologist and will ask whether I have any chances of developing HELLP Syndrome during pregnancy.

Oct. 31, 2018, 3:29 p.m. 4.5

Leave a Comment

Rating

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this webpage covers general information on several medical conditions, fertility treatments, IVF ICSI, surrogacy procedure, home remedies, and their respective treatments. The exclusive purpose of the displayed information is for the sake of general understanding and it has been collected from open sources which heavily rely on research and laboratory tests. However, the information shared here should not be considered as a medical advice or an alternative to consultation with a registered medical practitioner or licensed healthcare professional.

It is not advised to self-diagnose or treat any medical condition or disease following the information given in this article. We insist you to consult a registered practitioner and never try to replace their advice or discontinue treatment in between by relying solely on the information obtained. External links to different websites as well as videos given on the website serve the purpose of sharing knowledge only. Ela being an Independent Medical Information platform is neither responsible nor guarantees the authenticity, reliability, and accuracy of these videos and websites in any way. We do not intend the information displayed here to be used for a medical emergency, if you seek medical attention for yourself (or any other person with whom you want to share the information with), we advise you to directly get in touch with the hospital or the doctor.

Related Article view all

Pregnancy Delivery
Do’s and Don’ts Before Normal Delivery
Dr. Sushma Dikhit
Dr. Sushma Dikhit 4.5 (1 Votes)

Do’s and Don’ts Before Normal Delivery

Some of the important dos before normal delivery include performing light exercises and yoga along with keeping a peaceful environment. Donts involve never starving yourself or getting carried away by negative thoughts and succumbing to emotional stress during the process of delivery.

Read More

Pregnancy Delivery
How to Avoid Cesarean Section
Dr. Rakhi Singh
Dr. Rakhi Singh 4.5 (1 Votes)

How to Avoid Cesarean Section

Cesarean section is a surgical procedure to deliver a baby when a normal delivery is not possible. It is done in cases of high-risk pregnancies with complications like a breech baby, Preeclampsia and in cases of premature labor. Good nutrition, regular exercise and lots of water are some ways to avoid C-section.

Read More

Pregnancy Delivery
How to Quit Smoking During Early Pregnancy
Dr. Hemlata Singhal
Dr. Hemlata Singhal 4.5 (1 Votes)

How to Quit Smoking During Early Pregnancy

Smoke during pregnancy is extremely dangerous. Nicotine can permanently damage a baby's brain, can deform the baby and can cause lung cancer to the mother. Find out all the complications involved with smoking, know ways to quit smoking and learn the health benefits of quitting smoking during pregnancy.

Read More

More From Author

Pregnancy
Cost of C-Section in India
Dr. Astha Dayal
Dr. Astha Dayal 4.5 (1 Votes)

Cost of C-Section in India

Cost of a C-section in India can differ greatly depending on the ho...

Read More

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
How much does it Cost To Have an Artificial Insemination Sperm?
Dr. Astha Dayal
Dr. Astha Dayal 4.5 (1 Votes)

How much does it Cost To Have an Artificial Insemination Sperm?

Cost of artificial insemination depends on doctors consultation fee...

Read More

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant With In Vitro Fertilization?
Dr. Astha Dayal
Dr. Astha Dayal 4.5 (1 Votes)

How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant With In Vitro Fertilization?

It takes four to six weeks for a woman to get pregnant with In Vitr...

Read More

Trending Articles

surrogacy
surrogacy

5 Best Surrogacy Doctors in India

Find the list of best surrogacy doctors in India who offers the best treatment with the highest success rate. The list has been categorized on the basis of doctors fame, experience, reviews, ratings, and cost. Dr. Mohit Saraogi from Saraogi Hospitals and IRIS IVF Centre and Dr. Kaberi Banerjee from Advanced Fertility Centre top the list of the best surrogacy doctors in India.

Read More 4.5 (1 Votes)

IVF
ivf

Best IVF Doctors in India with Highest Success Rates

Find here the list of best IVF doctors in India on the basis of Ratings, Success Rate, Services offered, IVF cost packages and available Facilities. Dr. Nisha Bhatnagar, Dr. Kaberi Banerjee and Dr. Anjali A Deval top the list of such IVF doctors in India due to their unique pricing system, popularity and high success rate.

Read More 4.7 (3 Votes)

surrogacy
surrogacy

Top Surrogacy Centres in India with Highest Success Rates

In this article we bring you the best Surrogacy Centers and clinics in India with Review Ratings, Cost Estimates, and Surrogacy Success Rate to help you make the best choice. Aveya IVF and Surrogacy Centre and Advanced Fertility and Surrogacy Centre tops the list of such surrogacy centres in India due to their low treatment costs, popularity and high success rates.

Read More 4.8 (2 Votes)