Q&A: I'd like to know the signs for HELLP Syndrome.
Is there a syndrome called HELLP syndrome? I mentioned some discomfort I've experienced to a friend of mine, who is a surgeon and is also pregnant. The discomfort is on my right "side." It's not really upper quadrant or back, but in-between those areas. She suggested I call my doctor. I will, but she also mentioned this syndrome. Can you tell me what it is?
HELLP syndrome is a severe variation of pregnancy-induced hypertension (pre-eclampsia). The initials stand for:
- EL-elevated liver enzymes
- LP-low platelets
Translated, it means you are anemic, are beginning to have liver damage, and your clotting factors are crashing. This is considered an obstetrical emergency, the cure for which is delivery.
You don’t have to have all of the initials for it. Right upper quadrant pain and right shoulder blade pain come from liver swelling. There is often nausea, too. High blood pressure is also frequent, but not necessary.
If you’ve kept up with your OB appointments, HELLP is usually caught. But because it can develop suddenly in the late third trimester, report any right-sided pain to your doctor.
In my practice, the symptoms you’ve described aren’t particularly worrisome for HELLP, but report them anyway.