Condition 101 About Eclampsia

What is the definition of Eclampsia?

Eclampsia is the new onset of seizures or coma in a pregnant woman with preeclampsia. These seizures are not related to an existing brain condition.

What are the alternative names for Eclampsia?

Pregnancy - eclampsia; Preeclampsia - eclampsia; High blood pressure - eclampsia; Seizure - eclampsia; Hypertension - eclampsia

What are the causes for Eclampsia?

The exact cause of eclampsia is not known. Factors that may play a role include:

  • Blood vessel problems
  • Brain and nervous system (neurological) factors
  • Diet
  • Genes

Eclampsia follows a condition called preeclampsia. This is a complication of pregnancy in which a woman has high blood pressure and other findings.

Most women with preeclampsia do not go on to have seizures. It is hard to predict which women will. Women at high risk of seizures often have severe preeclampsia with findings such as:

  • Abnormal blood tests
  • Headaches
  • Very high blood pressure
  • Vision changes
  • Abdominal pain

Your chances of getting preeclampsia increase when:

  • You are 35 or older.
  • You are African American.
  • This is your first pregnancy.
  • You have diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease.
  • You are having more than 1 baby (such as twins or triplets).
  • You are a teen.
  • You are obese.
  • You have a family history of preeclampsia.
  • You have autoimmune disorders.
  • You have undergone in vitro fertilization.

What are the symptoms for Eclampsia?

Symptoms of eclampsia include:

  • Seizures
  • Severe agitation
  • Unconsciousness

Most women will have these symptoms of preeclampsia before the seizure:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling of the hands and face
  • Vision problems, such as loss of vision, blurred vision, double vision, or missing areas in the visual field

What are the current treatments for Eclampsia?

The main treatment to prevent severe preeclampsia from progressing to eclampsia is giving birth to the baby. Letting the pregnancy go on can be dangerous for you and the baby.

You may be given medicine to prevent seizures. These medicines are called anticonvulsants.

Your provider may give medicine to lower high blood pressure. If your blood pressure stays high, delivery may be needed, even if it is before the baby is due.

What are the possible complications for Eclampsia?

Women with eclampsia or preeclampsia have a higher risk for:

  • Separation of the placenta (placenta abruptio)
  • Premature delivery that leads to complications in the baby
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Stroke
  • Infant death

When should I contact a medical professional for Eclampsia?

Call your provider or go to the emergency room if you have any symptoms of eclampsia or preeclampsia. Emergency symptoms include seizures or decreased alertness.

Seek medical care right away if you have any of the following:

  • Bright red vaginal bleeding
  • Little or no movement in the baby
  • Severe headache
  • Severe pain in the upper right abdominal area
  • Vision loss
  • Nausea or vomiting

How do I prevent Eclampsia?

Getting medical care during your entire pregnancy is important in preventing complications. This allows problems such as preeclampsia to be detected and treated early.

Getting treatment for preeclampsia may prevent eclampsia.



American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Task Force on Hypertension in Pregnancy. Hypertension in pregnancy. Report of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Task Force on Hypertension in Pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(5):1122-1131. PMID: 24150027

Harper LM, Tita A, Karumanchi SA. Pregnancy-related hypertension. In: Resnik R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 48.

Salhi BA, Nagrani S. Acute complications of pregnancy. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 178.

Sibai BM. Preeclampsia and hypertensive disorders. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 38.

Top Global Doctors For Eclampsia

Lelia M. Duley
Nottingham, ENG, GB
Peter Von Dadelszen
Peter Von Dadelszen
London, GB
Jamilu Tukur
Kano, KN, NG
Gerda G. Zeeman
Heerenveen, FR, NL
Ineke R. Postma
Groningen, GR, NL

Latest Advances On Eclampsia

  • Condition: Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES) in an Oncological Normotensive Patient
  • Journal: Acta bio-medica : Atenei Parmensis
  • Treatment Used: Anti-Edema Therapy, Intravenous Supplementation of Magnesium, and Decoagulation
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
This case report describes a woman with stage IV breast cancer who developed posterior reversible encephalopathy (PRES) treated with anti-edema therapy, intravenous supplementation of magnesium, and decoagulation.
  • Condition: Pre-eclampsia, Eclampsia
  • Journal: Journal of perinatal medicine
  • Treatment Used: Vitamin D
  • Number of Patients: 300
  • Published —
This study aimed to look at vitamin D levels and deficiency in healthy pregnant women, pregnant women with eclampsia, and pregnant women with pre-eclampsia.

Clinical Trials For Eclampsia

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 3
  • Intervention Type: Drug
  • Participants: 90
  • Start Date: March 2021
Magnesium Sulfate Versus Dexmedetomidine on Anesthesia Awakening. Randomized Clinical Trial.
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 3
  • Intervention Type: Other, Drug
  • Participants: 75
  • Start Date: February 1, 2021
Best Dose of Magnesium Sulfate Infusion in Obese. A Blind and Randomized Trial