"Pregnancy causes it, but beyond that, the specific problem between the fetus and mother, and the genes from the father and so forth ... is not completely clear," Martin said.
Women with preeclampsia are more likely to have complications such as low birthweight, premature birth or placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth, according to the March of Dimes.
4. Preeclampsia can be silent. "Often, women who have preeclampsia do not feel sick," according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Martin said often, he has to convince women to come in and be evaluated as they do not feel ill. "It's such a gradual, insidious onset, they don't realize they're hypertensive or getting sick."
Symptoms can include, but aren't limited to:
-- Swelling of the hands and face, or edema. Note some swelling is considered normal during pregnancy, Martin said, but doctors specifically look for swelling in the face and behind the eyes.
-- Sudden weight gain over one to two days -- more than 2 pounds a week
In severe cases:
-- Headache that does not go away
-- Abdominal pain on the right side, below the ribs, or also in the right shoulder
-- Nausea and vomiting
-- Vision changes: Temporary blindness, seeing flashing lights or spots, sensitivity to light, blurry vision
5. The only "cure" for preeclampsia is delivery. If preeclampsia is diagnosed before a baby is considered "term," or 37 weeks, bed rest, medication or even hospitalization may be required, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. Eclampsia cases before delivery can be treated with steroids, Martin said.
Most cases of postpartum preeclampsia develop within 48 hours of childbirth, but may develop four to six weeks postpartum, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Delivery begins the cure, Martin said, as tissue is left behind after the placenta is removed and is shed by a new mother in the days following the birth.
"While obviously not dangerous for the baby, postpartum preeclampsia is still critical for the mother," according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. "Nearly 80 percent of women who die from preeclampsia die postpartum. Sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, more attention on the newborn and a lack of familiarity with normal postpartum experiences all contribute to more easily ignoring or missing indicators of a problem."
"They're focused on the baby," Martin said. "They expect to have some headaches and not feel great," but don't realize severe headaches can indicate a problem.