HELLP syndrome is a fatal condition that occurs during later stages of pregnancy, and sometimes after labor. The abbreviation stands for Hemolytic anemia, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count.
Early symptoms of HELLP syndrome include a diagnosis for pregnancy-induced hypertension, or suspicions of pre-eclampsia. Other symptoms include headaches, malaise, blurred vision, vomiting, nausea, tingling in the extremities, and band pain in the abdomen. 20% of HELLP sufferers exhibit disseminated intravascular coagulation, and in more than 80%, acute renal failure is present.
The only effective way to treat the condition is by birth of the baby, even if premature. If not, liver failure can worsen quickly which can affect both mother and child. Complications can result in death of both mother and child.
The cause of HELLP syndrome is unknown, although it occurs in 10% of women with pre-eclampsia or eclampsia.
For patients with suspicion of HELLP syndrome, a variety of blood tests aid in diagnosis. This includes liver enzymes, full blood count, coagulation and electrolyte studies, and renal functioning. A D-timer test may be able to determine who among pre-eclampsia patients will contract HELLP syndrome.