Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH
HELLP syndrome is a rare but serious condition. It is a form of severe
that occurs during pregnancy or just after delivery. HELLP stands for:
HELLP involves three types of problems:
The causes of HELLP syndrome are not known.
HELLP syndrome is more common in white women over the age of 25 years. Other factors that increase your chance of getting HELLP syndrome include:
Some women may have no symptoms at all.
When they do appear, symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include a complete blood count and liver function tests.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on how many weeks along you are in your pregnancy.
The only cure for HELLP syndrome is delivery of your baby. If you are 34 weeks pregnant or less, your doctor may recommend trying other treatments until you reach 34 weeks of pregnancy.
In some cases of HELLP, transfusions of platelets or red blood cells are used to increase the number of these cells.
There is no known way to prevent HELLP syndrome. If you have HELLP with one pregnancy, you are at increased risk to develop it again during another pregnancy. See your doctor regularly during pregnancy. If you develop the condition, it can be treated.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Pregnancy Association
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Diagnosis and Management of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Practice Bulletin No 33, January 2002. Reaffirmed 2012.
HELLP syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated May 4, 2011. Accessed June 10, 2013.
Padden MO. HELLP syndrome: Recognition and perinatal managment.
Am Fam Physician. 1999;60(3):829-839.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Andrea Chisholm; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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