Hypertension (high blood pressure) basically means that the pressure of blood is very high in the arterial blood vessels. Blood pressure is recorded in two figures, e.g. 140/90; measured in millimeters of mercury. The first figure 140 is the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts, this is systolic blood pressure and second number 90 is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between each heart beat, this is diastolic blood pressure. Normal BP is 140/90 mm Hg.
Moderate High BP 150/100 mm Hg
Relatively High BP 160/110 mm Hg
High blood pressure or hypertension during pregnancy can be developed before or after conception, whatever the case be, it certainly requires special care.
Types of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy:
Gestational Hypertension:High blood pressure that generally occurs when pregnancy has crossed 20 weeks without any sign of excess protein in the urine or organ damage. This can eventually lead to pre-eclampsia
Chronic Hypertension:It is hard to determine when it begins, because it is present before pregnancy or occurs before 20 weeks of becoming pregnant
Chronic hypertension with superimposed pre-eclampsia:Women who have chronic hypertension before pregnancy develop this condition. It is characterised by even more high blood pressure and protein in the urine
Are you at a risk of developing gestational hypertension?
Well, if you fit in one or more of the below mentioned criterion, chances of your developing gestational hypertension increase:
You are obese
Are above 35 years of age
Have a past history of hypertension or Renal disease
This is an adolescent pregnancy
You are carrying twins or more
You have been detected with placental abnormalities
You have a family history of preeclampsia
Symptoms of Gestational Hypertension:
The symptoms include vomiting, severe headache, visual problems like blurred vision, spots or flashing lights in front of the eyes, swelling of face, hands and feet. Some women also experience upper abdominal pain decreased urine output, impaired lever function and shortness of breath. This is mostly seen in women who are obese, over the age of 35, pregnant with more than one baby or with any other problem such as kidney disorder, diabetes.
How does gestational pregnancy pose a problem for my pregnancy?
High blood pressure during pregnancy poses various risks, including, but not limited to:
This condition can lead to slow growth, low birth weight or preterm birth because the blood supply to the placenta is less. This can result in the baby receiving less oxygen and essential nutrients
A life threatening condition of placental abruption can develop. In this condition, the placenta separates itself from the uterine wall before delivery, and if it is severe, heavy bleeding can pose serious risks
Having pre-eclampsia increases your risk of future heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
It is possible to have a safe delivery even after having high BP, but higher the BP higher risks during labour and more likely to have artificial labour which is called induction. This also depends on the blood pressure if it is affecting the baby or not. The high blood pressure needs to be monitored continuously in certain circumstances it could be a caesarean section delivery.
What is Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that usually takes place after 20 weeks of pregnancy and is characterised by high blood pressure and damages to other organs. It can be fatal for both the mother and the baby if left un-treated It affects the expectant woman’s liver, brain and kidney and also the placenta. When this condition further result in seizures it is known as eclampsia. Pre eclampsia can lead to many complications which are still birth, premature birth and low birth weight. There is no way to prevent this condition; however, to avoid or reduce further complications expecting mothers’ are closely monitored. The cure for this is only when the baby is born.
The diastolic blood pressure is the most important number that lets the doctor know about your health. Therefore, if this number is high, then it is alone enough to know you have high BP. Depending on the figures further tests will be done to monitor the blood pressure over the next few hours.
It is quite common in pregnancy, 1 in 10 mothers-to-be have high BP, 1 in 20 have pre- existing hypertension, 1 in 20 have gestational high BP and can further develop pre-eclampsia, around between 3 to 7 in 100 mum-to-be develop pre-eclampsia and eclampsia can be developed in about 1 in 200 pregnant women with pre-eclampsia.
The best way to reduce risk of further complications:-
Visit your doctor regularly
Take BP medications as per the prescription
Follow healthy diet e.g. food with low sodium/salts
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Most women with hypertension and other related problems have successful and straightforward pregnancies and delivery, the most important thing you can do for yourself and baby is to have an early and regular prenatal care. So eat right, stay away from stress and have a Healthy, Happy Pregnancy!!