Find out what happens when your blood pressure becomes high during pregnancy. We’ve included all the implications and treatment plans to help you overcome it.
- Pregnancy-related high blood pressure is a common condition worldwide.
- High blood pressure detected before 20 weeks of pregnancy indicates chronic hypertension, which may turn severe, preeclampsia and eclampsia.
- Both mother and the baby may face complications if the blood pressure becomes abnormally high.
A few women develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. This could lead to pregnancy complications, putting both the mother and the unborn child in danger.
Fortunately, high blood pressure may be controlled and prevented. Timely intervention and monitoring can make the journey smooth with no aftermath post-delivery.
This article discusses high blood pressure during pregnancy in detail, from what it is and what causes it to the treatment options available.
Understanding High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy
Pregnancy-related high blood pressure is a common medical condition that often goes away once you deliver the baby. However, in some cases, it may turn life-threatening.
Blood pressure, as we know, is how strongly your blood is pressing against the blood vessel walls when moving through it.
What Causes Change in Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
Generally, a woman’s blood volume increases during pregnancy. In fact, according to a study, from just before conception until the end of pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume can increase by as much as 45%.
This increase in the total blood volume requires much more work for the body, especially for the heart, which must pump extra blood throughout the body.
The left ventricle, which performs most of the heart’s pumping, thus, enlarges and thickens. Yet, the heart pumps blood more forcefully to accommodate the greater amount of blood.
The kidneys release large amounts of vasopressin and other hormones as part of the overall process to increase water retention.
Note: Pregnancy is only one of the reasons for changes in blood pressure. There are many more; here’s an article that discusses other reasons.
What Are The Different Blood Pressure Conditions In Pregnancy?
There are three types of blood pressure that can be noticed during pregnancy.
It is when high blood pressure is detected In the absence of protein in the urine or any heart or renal issues during the pregnancy. Typically, it is seen after 20 weeks of gestation or near the time of delivery.
Gestational hypertension usually subsides once the baby is born. However, the risk of acquiring chronic hypertension is high for pregnant women with gestational hypertension.
A woman may develop chronic hypertension when she already had high blood pressure before she got pregnant. Her high blood pressure may be diagnosed during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
When hypertension appears after 20 weeks of pregnancy, preeclampsia ensues. Damage to other organ systems, such as the kidneys, liver, blood, or brain, is linked to preeclampsia.
It is found in 2-8 percent of pregnancies. Preeclampsia is a severe medical condition that can even turn fatal for the baby and the mother. Some expectant women may also develop eclampsia, which can result in seizures.
Note: A pregnant woman may have preeclampsia without protein in the urine.
Signs And Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
The signs of elevated blood pressure during pregnancy can occasionally be undetectable or mild. Because of all the changes that occur during pregnancy, it’s critical to understand the signs of high blood pressure, possibly on a blood pressure chart.
Pregnancy-related severe hypertension
Normal blood pressure
A few signs that may indicate high blood pressure in women include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in vision
- Severe headaches
- Upper abdominal pain
- Excess protein in the urine
Who Are More Susceptible To High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
A woman may be at risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy due to various reasons. By being aware of these risk factors in advance, you and your healthcare provider can create a treatment or prevention strategy.
These may include:
- Diet (high in salt)
- Ethnicity (African American)
- Kidney Disease
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of high blood pressure
What Are The Implications Of High Blood pressure In Pregnant Women?
High blood pressure in women imposes the following risk factors:
The risk of placental abruption increases when preeclampsia and high blood pressure are present. In this case, the placenta gets detached from the inner wall of the uterus, causing heavy bleeding; placenta separation can be life-threatening.
Reduced blood flow to the placenta
As a result of the placenta’s insufficient blood deposition, the fetus receives less oxygen and nutrients.
This can lead to low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, and premature birth. Premature births can have repercussions, including respiratory problems, an increased risk of infection, and more.
Injury to other organs
The eyes, brain, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and other essential organs might suffer damage from poorly controlled high blood pressure. It may even be fatal in extreme circumstances.
Intrauterine growth restriction
Fetal growth could be hindered or diminished due to high blood pressure.
Early delivery is occasionally necessary to avoid potentially fatal complications from pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
Cardiovascular disease (in the future)
Preeclampsia may make future heart and cardiovascular illnesses more likely.
If you have experienced preeclampsia more than once, you are more likely to develop cardiovascular problems in the future. Additionally, it is increased if you give birth prematurely due to high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Treatment For High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
A pregnant woman should check her blood pressure due to the risks involved. If detected higher than normal, the following may help to lower blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Take all your prescribed medication regularly
- Do not miss all prenatal checkups
- Do not drink, smoke, or have substance abuse
Another element that contributes to high blood pressure is stress. Learn to manage it and avoid stressful circumstances as much as you can.
Prenatal yoga, prenatal massages, baths, and breathing exercises are all effective ways to relax and maintain optimum health during pregnancy.
Use a home blood pressure device to monitor your blood pressure at home. Call your doctor immediately if your blood pressure is higher than usual or if you exhibit preeclampsia symptoms.
Many pregnant women experience high blood pressure unexpectedly, which can be caused by many different things. Learning about these symptoms could help you avoid an issue in the future.
It’s essential to get advice from your doctor if you’re concerned about your blood pressure levels and follow their recommendations for managing the condition.
Together, you can ensure that your high blood pressure doesn’t negatively impact your pregnancy or baby.
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