High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
A woman after her 20th week of pregnancy suddenly developed symptoms like headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, and blurred vision. She was at once rushed to the hospital where the doctor found that she was suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure induced due to pregnancy.
High blood pressure and pregnancy
The blood moves in the blood vessels with certain amount of pressure and reaches all the body parts. When the blood flows through the blood vessels with greater pressure than normal (120/80 mm of hg) then it is called as hypertension or high blood pressure. This condition can develop during pregnancy.
There are three types of high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy.
When a woman has high blood pressure even before getting pregnant then it is known as chronic hypertension. She may not be aware that she is hypertensive and it may be detected during the first prenatal check up. Gestational hypertension occurs during end of the pregnancy term without any associated symptoms. Another condition called pregnancy induced hypertension occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy with associated symptoms like changes in blood, and protein in urine. If treatment is not given on time, it can cause serious complications to the mother and child. This kind of high blood pressure is also called as preeclampsia or toxemia.
Chronic hypertension may affect the health of the mother and the baby. The growth of the baby may get slowed down due to insufficient oxygen and nutrients. The baby’s health is adversely affected and this hypertension can further turn into pregnancy induced hypertension or preeclampsia. If chronic hypertension is left untreated, it can also cause heart failure in the mother.
Gestational hypertension does not cause any problem to the mother or child during pregnancy, but it increases the risk of developing lifelong high blood pressure in the mother, and it may also turn into pregnancy induced hypertension or preeclampsia.
There can be serious complications of pregnancy induced hypertension, such as loss of vision, headaches, abdominal pain, dizziness, premature delivery, low birth weight of baby. and slow growth of baby. The organs of the mother like heart, kidney, brain and eyes may also get damaged in severe conditions. If seizures (eclampsia) occur during this hypertension, then it is life threatening to the mother and child.
The treatment depends on the type of hypertension.
In case of chronic hypertension, the doctor would check if the medications you are already taking for hypertension is safe for the baby or not. If the medication is risky, then the doctor will change the medication. The doctor will conduct tests like ultrasound to check the growth of the baby. As chronic hypertension can turn into preeclampsia, the doctor would monitor your condition carefully.
Gestational hypertension does not need any treatment, but it can turn into preeclampsia, therefore, the doctor should closely monitor the condition.
The treatment of pregnancy induced hypertension depends on the delivery date and the health of the mother and child. Delivering the baby is the only way to stop pregnancy induced hypertension. If the condition of the mother and child is getting worse, then the doctor delivers the baby before time. If the doctor thinks that the pregnancy can go full term, then he would monitor the condition of mother and child carefully till delivery. Blood tests are conducted on the mother and child to monitor the condition. Complete bed rest is advised.
After delivery, the gestational hypertension will come back to normal, but in later years it may develop into chronic hypertension in the mother. In case of chronic hypertension, delivery does not affect the blood pressure. You may have to take antihypertensive medications regularly, follow strict diet and do exercise. Pregnancy induced hypertension would come back to normal after a few weeks after delivery of the baby.
Taking care of yourself
If you are hypertensive, it is important to take precautions to lower your hypertension even before you get pregnant. You must work with your doctor and take necessary steps to lose unhealthy weight through diet and exercise. All medications should be taken only after consulting your doctor. During pregnancy if you are having hypertension, you must carefully monitor your weight and blood pressure at home, and report it to your doctor. By taking all the necessary steps in advance to control your hypertension, you can reduce risk of severe complications and deliver a healthy baby.