HELLP syndrome

What is HELLP Syndrome?

HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. Can occur during the later stages of pregnancy, or sometimes after childbirth.

H (hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells)

EL (elevated liver enzymes)

LP (low platelet count)

HELLP syndrome is difficult to diagnose. Its symptoms are sometimes mistaken for gastritis, flu, acute hepatitis, gall bladder disease, or other conditions.

That’s why it’s critical for expecting mothers to be aware of the condition and its symptoms so they can receive early diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms of HELLP Syndrome

The physical symptoms of HELLP Syndrome may seem at first like preeclampsia. Pregnant women developing HELLP syndrome have reported experiencing one or more of these symptoms:


Nausea/vomiting/indigestion with pain after eating

Abdominal or chest tenderness and upper right upper side pain (from liver distention)

Shoulder pain or pain when breathing deeply


Changes in vision


Signs to look for include:

Treatment of HELLP Syndrome

Most often, the best treatment for women with HELLP Syndrome is the delivery of their baby. During pregnancy, many women suffering from HELLP syndrome require a transfusion of some form of blood product (red cells, platelets, plasma). Corticosteroids can be used in early pregnancy to help the baby’s lungs mature.

Who’s at risk of Getting HELLP Syndrome?

The risk is variable and therefore detection is the best way to avoid risk of succumbing to HELLP.

What can I Do to Prevent HELLP Syndrome?

Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to prevent this illness. The best thing to do is:

Get yourself in the good physical shape before getting pregnant

Have regular prenatal visits during pregnancy

Inform your care providers about any previous high-risk pregnancies or family history of HELLP syndrome, preeclampsia, or other hypertensive disorders

Understand the warning signs and report them to your healthcare provider immediately