By – Dr Payal Chaudhary, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Rosewalk Healthcare by Rainbow Children’s Hospital.
High blood pressure can sometimes develop during pregnancy which is called gestational hypertension and for some women, it could be there before pregnancy called Chronic hypertension.
It is seen that the incidence of gestational hypertension is 1 in 12-16 pregnant women. Gestational hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that develops for the first time during pregnancy, typically after the 20th week. It resolves after childbirth, and there is no presence of proteinuria or organ dysfunction.
On the other hand, chronic hypertension refers to high blood pressure that was present before pregnancy or diagnosed before the 20th week. It persists before, during, and after pregnancy, and proteinuria may be present in some cases. While gestational hypertension is specific to pregnancy and typically resolves postpartum, chronic hypertension is a pre-existing condition that can be exacerbated by pregnancy. Both conditions require careful monitoring and management to ensure the health and safety of both the mother and the baby.
Blood pressure can have multiple implications for both the mother and child
When blood pressure increases in pregnancy, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it can have multiple implications for both the mother and child. High blood pressure can sometimes lead to problems in many organs of the mother, like the liver, kidney, blood parameters and in severe cases, also the brain. When high blood pressure is associated with leakage of protein in the mother’s urine, it sometimes leads to swelling all over the body, high liver enzymes and altered kidney function which is referred to as pre-eclampsia. Whereas in severe cases, when there is a swelling in the brain, leading to a condition where a woman may have seizures, is called Eclampsia.
This may be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.
If a woman develops high blood pressure which is more than 140/90mmhg in pregnancy, she should be under the proper guidance and care of an Obstetrician Gynaecologist. She should get her blood pressure checked regularly and if her doctor is prescribed her medication for high BP, she should take it as advised. She should also be aware of the warning signs of Eclampsia that is severe headaches, blurred vision, and reduced urine output.
High BP can result in suboptimal growth for the baby
As high blood pressure in pregnancy has underlying placental dysfunction, it also may lead to reduced blood supply for the baby. This can result in suboptimal growth for the baby. In some cases, the growth lag may be so severe that an early delivery may be planned. Sometimes early delivery may be planned if blood pressure is uncontrolled even with a maximum dose of medication.
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Awareness is the key to preventing some of the serious complications of high blood pressure in pregnancy. To minimize the risks associated with high blood pressure during pregnancy, expectant mothers must receive regular prenatal care and work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their blood pressure. Medications, lifestyle modifications (such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction), and close monitoring can help optimize maternal and fetal health outcomes.