Our expert says:
Hypertension during pregnancy is a potentially serious side effect of pregnancy that must be addressed immediately. Hypertension or high blood pressure during pregnancy affects roughly one of every six pregnant women. While for some hypertension during pregnancy is easily resolved, for others hypertension can result in a high risk pregnancy, with increased risk for premature labor, delivery and maternal complications. Hypertension during pregnancy results when the systolic blood pressure rises 30 or more points and the diastolic blood pressure rises 15 or more points from normal readings during pregnancy. Doctors aren't sure the exact causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Certain mothers are more at risk than others for high blood pressure problems during pregnancy. Mom's at risk include:
Young mothers under the age of 17 or older mothers aged 35 and above during their first pregnancy.
Mothers with a history of high blood pressure or family history of hypertension.
Women who are carrying more than one baby.
Women who are overweight or smoke, whether before or during their pregnancy.
Women who lack adequate nutrition or prenatal care during pregnancy.
Women with health problems complicating a pregnancy, including heart disease, diabetes or circulatory problems.
Most women who will develop hypertension during pregnancy will not do so until after the 24th week of pregnancy. For some women high blood pressure is a sign that the baby is under stress. High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to maternal kidney failure, breathing problems, stroke or seizure. Complications for the baby may include intrauterine growth restriction, oxygen complications and premature labor. If your doctor diagnoses you with high blood pressure during pregnancy your condition will be closely monitored. Chances are you will see your doctor more frequently than if you had a low risk pregnancy. Your doctor will want to perform multiple blood tests and urine tests to assess your kidney function. You may be asked to go on modified or full bed rest for a certain period of time or until delivery in some cases.
Some women will have to be admitted to the hospital particularly those with kidney problems. It may be necessary to induce you or deliver your baby early to protect the health of both you and your baby.
Certain complications are associated with high blood pressure during pregnancy. These include a condition called pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. This condition also known as toxemia of pregnancy is typically associated with additional symptoms including:
Spots before the eyes or blurry vision.
Stomach pain in the upper quadrant of the abdomen.
Swelling, including excessive swelling resulting in rapid weight gain.
Decreased fetal movement or fetal distress.
In most cases the only cure for hypertension during pregnancy is delivery. Some babies will be delivered early to protect their health and that of the mother. High blood pressure is nothing to laugh at. It is a potentially life threatening condition that while rare must be treated vigorously during pregnancy to support the health and well being of both mother and baby!
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