High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy: What Pregnant Moms-to-Be Need to Know About Hypertension & Preeclampsia by 30Seconds Pregnancy
Experiencing high blood pressure during pregnancy isn’t uncommon. Hypertension usually isn’t a major issue as long as you manage this condition and follow a treatment plan adapted to your unique risks and needs. It’s essential to be aware of the symptoms of high blood pressure in pregnancy and possible complications.
How Common Is High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 12 to 17 pregnant women between the ages of 20 and 44 experience high blood pressure. It’s one of the most common complications associated with pregnancy, and it’s usually not dangerous as long as you detect it early and take steps to reduce your risks.
High blood pressure can develop as a result of being overweight before pregnancy. Not being active enough, smoking and drinking may also increase your risk. Some women have a higher risk of developing hypertension during pregnancy because they’re older than 35, go through their first pregnancy or have a history of high blood pressure during pregnancy in their family. Diabetes and other medical conditions can increase your risks of pregnancy complications.
There is a correlation between being pregnant with more than one baby and high blood pressure, as well as in-vitro fertilization.
Hypertension and Preeclampsia
Not all instances of high blood pressure in pregnancy lead to complications. Some women experience mild hypertension that resolves itself after the delivery.
While some women experience chronic hypertension before the pregnancy and see symptoms worsen as the pregnancy progresses, it’s possible to develop hypertension during the pregnancy. If hypertension worsens, a disorder called preeclampsia can develop. It typically appears during the third trimester and affects one in 20 pregnant women, making it one of the most common complications.
It’s normal to experience changes in blood pressure during pregnancy since the volume of blood present in your body increases. Some women experience chronic hypertension that can worsen after getting pregnant, but it’s also possible to develop gestational hypertension after the 20th week of the pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension typically disappears after the delivery, while chronic hypertension may require ongoing treatment. Women can experience stage one hypertension if their systolic blood pressure is somewhere between 130 and 139 mm Hg. If your systolic blood pressure exceeds 140 mm Hg, a health-care provider may diagnose you with stage two hypertension.
While experts don’t know the exact cause for preeclampsia, it’s possible that this condition is a result of an influx of blood to the placenta during pregnancy. There are genetic factors that increase risks, but women who live in environments with heavy exposure to air pollution may also be at risk.
Health-care professionals can usually detect preeclampsia by tracking blood pressure and testing urine for the presence of high protein levels. Other symptoms like swelling and fluid retention may appear later in the pregnancy. If the condition progresses, additional symptoms like headaches, blurry vision, nausea, chest pain and liver problems may appear.
Preeclampsia can sometimes result in complications for the fetus. It may slow down growth and result in premature delivery. There are also risks for the mother. Preeclampsia may increase your risk of suffering from a stroke or seizure. It may also lead to the placenta separating from the uterus, affect other organs and increase risks for developing cardiovascular disease in the long term.
What's the Treatment for High Blood Pressure?
If you suffer from high blood pressure during your pregnancy, your health-care provider will probably recommend that you get plenty of rest. In some cases, bed rest is the best way to manage hypertension.
You can also take medication. Some beta-blockers, diuretics and other high blood pressure treatments may be safe during pregnancy as long as your health-care provider adjusts the dosage accordingly.
Moderate activity and a healthy diet with low levels of sodium may help with high blood pressure. If preeclampsia is present, your health-care provider might recommend to induce labor early to avoid complications.
Complications of High Blood Pressure or Preeclampsia
Stroke is one of the most common complications of preeclampsia. Other health conditions like diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol may increase your risks of suffering from cardiac arrest during your pregnancy.
If you’re at risk for stroke, it’s important that your loved ones know about CPR in pregnancy. Here is what to do if a pregnant woman goes into cardiac arrest:
- Call 911 immediately. Let the operator know that the woman is pregnant.
- CPR during pregnancy is safe to perform. There should be no risks to the fetus.
- Push hard on the center of the chest at a pace of 100 compressions per minute.
- Pause after every 30 compressions to administer two breaths.
High blood pressure is a common complication during pregnancy. It’s a condition you may be able to manage with changes to your lifestyle, resting and medication. Serious complications like cardiac arrest are rare, but it’s important to be aware of this risk and know that CPR in pregnancy is safe to perform.
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