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HELLP syndrome need to know

Find out what HELLP is and what symptoms to look out for

Posted: 18 June 2012
by Sophie Westnedge

HELLP syndrome
HELLP is a combined blood clotting and liver disorder

What is HELLP syndrome?

“HELLP syndrome is a serious pregnancy complication that usually occurs in the late stages of pregnancy as well as after delivery of your baby, and in most cases is closely linked to pre-eclampsia and eclampsia,” says independent midwife Helen Taylor (

HELLP usually occurs in the third trimester, and in rare cases before 20 weeks of the pregnancy, according to the NHS.

Why is it called HELLP?

HELLP is a combined blood clotting and liver disorder with the letters standing for:

H - heamolysis (breakdown of red blood cells)
EL - elevated liver enzymes which indicates damage to the liver
LP - low platelet levels (special cells that are needed for blood clotting)

What are the symptoms?

“The physical symptoms are similar to pre-eclampsia and it is diagnosed by blood test results, as well as other tests,” says Helen.

Symptoms include the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting or indigestion
  • Abdominal or chest tenderness
  • Shoulder pain or pain when breathing
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Problems with vision

Signs doctors look out for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in urine

What is the treatment?

“The treatment for women with this condition is delivery of your baby, with drugs used to treat you both before, during and after the delivery of your baby,” says Helen.

“You would be looked after by midwives and doctors who care for women with this type of complication,” Helen explains.

Where can I look for advice and information? 

If you’d like more information on HELLP syndrome and pre-eclampsia, Helen recommends the following websites: 

  • (action for pre eclampsia) – which has downloadable patient information leaflets.
  • (Royal College of Obstetricians And Gynaecologists) – this site has a downloadable patient guidelines on pre-eclampsia

Read more…

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Discuss this story

Hi sorry about Ur loss I'm worried today I have only just found out I have help and there bringing the baby on at 35 weeks I'm dreading it thinking is he gonna be okay and am I they been saying for weeks Ur liver is some thing wrong with it number off blood test for me to come in and get a blood transfusion to find this out I'm really worried and there not much info about this condition

Posted: 27/08/2014 at 02:58

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