This material must not be used for commercial purposes, or in any hospital or medical facility. Failure to comply may result in legal action.
What is HELLP syndrome?
HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs in pregnant women who have high blood pressure (BP). Your risk also increases if you had preeclampsia in a past pregnancy or are older than 40 with this pregnancy. HELLP syndrome usually develops between week 20 and the end of pregnancy. It can also develop a few days after the baby is delivered. Get medical care immediately if you have any symptoms of HELLP syndrome.
Warning signs to watch for:
- Nausea and vomiting, or severe stomach pain
- Headache with vision changes
- Severe fatigue that does not get better with rest
- Difficulty breathing, or pain when you breathe deeply
- Chest or shoulder pain
- Confusion or seizures
- Bleeding or a nosebleed, and the bleeding does not stop quickly
- Weight gain that happens quickly, or swelling in your face, arms, or legs
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US), or have someone call if:
- You lose consciousness.
- You suddenly have trouble breathing.
Call your obstetrician or doctor if:
- Your heart is beating faster than usual, or you are breathing faster than usual.
- The pain on the right side of your upper abdomen gets worse, or spreads to your back.
- You feel weak, dizzy, faint, or sweaty, or you are pale.
- You have a headache that does not go away when you take medicine.
- You have blood in your urine.
- You are urinating less than usual, or not at all.
- You gain weight quickly or notice swelling in your face, arms, or legs.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Health problems HELLP syndrome can cause:
HELLP stands for H emolysis, E levated L iver enzymes, L ow P latelet count:
- Hemolysis is the destruction of red blood cells. Red blood cells deliver oxygen to your body. A lack of oxygen can lead to organ failure.
- Elevated liver enzymes mean your liver is not working correctly to filter your blood. HELLP syndrome can lead to a liver rupture.
- Low platelet count means your blood cannot clot well. Platelets are the sticky part of your blood that helps it clot to stop bleeding.
Giving birth may stop HELLP syndrome. Medicines can delay labor or mature your baby's lungs if he or she is not ready to be born. Medicines can also help lower your blood pressure or prevent seizures. You may need a blood transfusion if you have severe bleeding.
- Go to follow-up appointments as directed. Your obstetrician will check your blood pressure regularly until it is normal. He or she may also order other tests.
- Check your weight each day. Weigh yourself every day before breakfast. Weight gain can be a sign of extra fluid in your body.
- Do not drink alcohol or smoke. Alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase your BP. They can also harm your baby. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently drink alcohol or smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Follow up with your obstetrician or doctor as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Hellp Syndrome (Ambulatory Care)
IBM Watson Micromedex
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.