What is HELLP syndrome?

1 Answer
Jun 26, 2017

HELLP syndrome is a life threatening pregnancy complication that usually occurs during the later stages of pregnancy or sometimes after childbirth.


HELLP is an abbreviation of the 3 main features of the system - Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet count.
This syndrome is associated with serious liver manifestations, including infarction, haemorrhage and rupture.

The exact cause of HELLP syndrome is unknown but general activation of the coagulation cascade is considered the main underlying problem. It leads to a variant form of disseminated intravascular coagulation, leading to paradoxical bleeding, which can make emergency surgery a challenge.

HELLP usually begins during the third trimester. Often women who develop HELLP syndrome have already been followed up for gestational hypertension or is suspected to develop high blood pressure and proteinuria.

Most often the definitive treatment is the delivery of the baby. Intravenous transfusions of some form of blood products ( RBC's, platelets, plasma) is often required.