08 May The Dangers of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
Every expectant mother wants her pregnancy to go smoothly. High blood pressure is one possible complication that could negatively affect the health of mother and baby. Since May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, now is the perfect time to learn more about the dangers of high blood pressure during pregnancy and how to prevent it.
Why is High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Harmful?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 6 to 8 percent of all pregnancies in the US are affected by high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. This includes chronic hypertension, which is diagnosed before conceiving, and gestational hypertension, which occurs solely during pregnancy.
When you have untreated high blood pressure during pregnancy, it increases the risk of the following complications:
- Preeclampsia or eclampsia
- Induced pregnancy
- Placental abruption
- Preterm delivery
- Low birth weight
Fortunately, high blood pressure during pregnancy is a preventable issue. With increased patient awareness and counseling, hypertension can be caught early, so steps may be taken to treat the condition and avoid the associated complications.
What Women with High Blood Pressure Can Do Before, During, and After Pregnancy
If you have chronic high blood pressure before you conceive, take proactive measures to prevent your condition from complicating your pregnancy. First, review your current medications with your doctor. Make sure you’re only taking safe, necessary prescriptions if you’re planning to conceive. Then, research ways to remain healthy while you’re pregnant, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Your doctor can help you make a customized plan.
Whether you are diagnosed with chronic or gestational hypertension, keep you and your baby healthy with a few simple tips. First, attend prenatal care appointments with your healthcare provider. Then, get a self-measured blood pressure monitoring kit you can use at home. Contact your doctor if your blood pressure rises higher than normal, or if you experience headaches, blurred vision, or dizziness—symptoms of preeclampsia.
After giving birth, continue to watch for signs of preeclampsia, which in rare cases can occur during the postpartum period, even if you didn’t experience preeclampsia during pregnancy. Postpartum preeclampsia is usually diagnosed within 48 hours of childbirth, but it can happen up to six weeks later.
Types of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
High blood pressure can take various forms before, during, or shortly after pregnancy. Your healthcare provider should test for these conditions early on and throughout your pregnancy so the necessary treatments can take place.
Preeclampsia & Eclampsia
The onset of high blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or higher) on two occasions more than four hours apart is known as preeclampsia. You may also be diagnosed with this condition if you have blood pressure readings of 160/110 mmHg when you previously had normal blood pressure. Eclampsia is when high blood pressure during pregnancy is associated with seizures and coma.
Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed after the 20-week mark, and most often closer to delivery. About 4 percent of pregnancies in the US are affected by this condition.
Along with high blood pressure, other symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- Protein in the urine
- Low blood platelet count
- Abnormal liver or kidney function, causing swelling of the hands or face, sudden weight gain, or upper abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing caused by fluid in the lungs
- Blurry vision, seeing spots, or other vision changes
- Vomiting, nausea, or severe headache
You are at risk for preeclampsia if:
- You’re having your first baby
- You’re having twins
- You had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy
- Your family has a history of preeclampsia
- You have chronic hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes, lupus, or thrombophilia
- You became pregnant through in vitro fertilization or when you were over 40 years old
High blood pressure is defined as anything equal to or above 140/90 mmHg. You may be diagnosed with this condition any time before you conceive or during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Chronic Hypertension with Superimposed Preeclampsia
This is when you already have chronic hypertension and begin to show signs of preeclampsia, including protein in the urine. To be diagnosed with this condition, your blood pressure readings must remain between 140/90 mmHg and 160/110 mmHg.
You could be diagnosed with this condition if you have high blood pressure that only occurs during pregnancy, and you have no protein in your urine or other signs of preeclampsia. Gestational hypertension usually occurs after the 20-week mark, and often closer to delivery. It also usually dissipates after childbirth, though the mother has an increased risk of chronic hypertension from then on.
Get Help Promoting a Healthy Pregnancy
When it comes to having a strong and healthy pregnancy, some factors are within your control, such as your diet and exercise routine. However, even if you take all the right steps, you may still experience high blood pressure during pregnancy, as well as low back pain, hip pain, and other discomforts.
The team at Mile High Spine & Pain Center can help keep your back healthy before and after you deliver your baby. To schedule helpful chiropractic adjustments that can promote a healthy pregnancy, please contact our office in Broomfield at (720) 507-0080.