Preeclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy that is usually characterized by the appearance of proteinuria and hypertension during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is a common disorder, occurring in 5% of all pregnancies, and often requires premature delivery of the baby. Occasionally, preeclampsia may lead to seizures and multiorgan dysfunction in the mother with severe morbidity and even mortality. Preeclampsia occurs only in the presence of placenta and remits dramatically postpartum, after the placenta has been delivered. The placentae of preeclamptic women appear abnormal, with evidence of underperfusion and ischemia. The initiating event in preeclampsia has been postulated to be reduced uteroplacental perfusion as a result of abnormal cytotrophoblast invasion of spiral arterioles...
http://endo.endojournals.org/cgi/reprint/145/11/4835.pdf <--warning, .pdf file!
I've just realized this paper is out from behind the paywall -- it's from 2004, but is nonetheless a pretty concise discussion of the basic problems of PE.
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