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Pregnancy and Hypertension: Keep these facts in mind

Pregnancy,Hypertension

By Dr.MuktaNadig, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal

Pregnancy is a delicate time for a woman. Keeping track of the health of to be mother and the foetus at this time is crucial. Ignoring the health of pregnant woman and not following the measures suggested by the doctor can lead to serious complications. Therefore, regular check-ups, keeping track of the blood pressure and blood sugar of the pregnant woman is important to have a healthy delivery and a healthy baby.

High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the major concern for some pregnant women. Hypertension during pregnancy may lead to less flow of blood to the placenta leading to slow growth of the foetus, low birth weight and premature delivery. Hence, following a healthy lifestyle with good diet and regular check-up is vital during pregnancy.

High blood pressure can be present either before pregnancy or may be experienced during pregnancy. Managing the blood pressure well and modifications to lifestyle may help in avoiding serious problems.

There are several possible causes for hypertension during pregnancy.

What are the causes?

– Being obese

– Having a history of pregnancy-related hypertension

– First-time pregnancy

– Age over 35 years

– Assistive reproductive technology like IVF

– Diabetes

– Autoimmune diseases

– Smoking

– Alcohol consumption

– Being lethargic without any physical activity

While these are the causes which can increase the possibility of hypertension, lack of physical activity during pregnancy, age, first time pregnancy and multiple pregnancy are the major risk factors for hypertension. 

Symptoms of hypertension during pregnancy:

Increased blood pressure is one of the major symptoms of hypertension. Along with that a pregnant woman may experience

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden weight gain or Swelling
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased urine output
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Excess protein in the urine
  • Shortness of breath

Depending on the type of hypertension, identifying the symptoms and managing it in the initial stages is important for both mother and baby.

Types of hypertension:

Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure present before pregnancy or that occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy. This type of hypertension is hard to detect as no symptoms are present in the initial stages.

Gestational hypertension: Some women can have hypertension that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Those with gestational hypertension eventually develop preeclampsia.

 Chronic hypertension and superimposed preeclampsia: This condition is seen in women who are diagnosed with chronic hypertension before pregnancy. They develop high blood pressure, presence of excess protein in the urine and other health complications during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia: It occurs when high blood pressure develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is associated with damage to other vital organs like liver, kidney or brain. If ignored,preeclampsia can complicate into grave conditions such as HELLP syndrome or eclampsia i.e. fits or seizures in pregnancy. In such cases both mother and foetus may need an intensive care unit hence such cases should be consulted in tertiary care hospitals.

Why hypertension is a problem during pregnancy?

High blood pressure can pose several risk factors if it is not managed well.

Decreased blood flow to the placenta: When the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the baby is reduced. This can lead to premature birth or low birth weight and other complications.

Placental abruption and premature delivery: It is a medical emergency where the placenta detaches from the uterus prematurely. Due to hypertension, early delivery might be needed in some cases to overcome life-threatening conditions. Hypertension can also lead to Intrauterine growth restrictionslike retarded growth of the baby.

Cardiovascular disease and damage to other organs: Preeclampsia increases the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases in future. High blood pressure can damage other vital organs which can be life threatening in some cases.

What to keep in mind?

Stay active: Following physical activity routine will help you to stay active. It also helps in managing weight

Eat a healthy diet: Consume nutrition rich food as it helps the mother and the growing foetus.

Say no to smoking and alcohol: Quit smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy

Manage your stress: Pregnancy can cause hormonal changes leading to physical and psychological changes. This can cause stress. Meditation, getting involved in hobbies help in lowering stress levels.

Regular visits your doctor: Regular visits to the doctor can help in identifying any unexpected changes in your body. Blood pressure, weight and the foetus health needs to be monitored regularly.

Taking care of your health along with foetus can help in a happy pregnancy. Following the suggestion from your doctor during this time will aid in healthy delivery.

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