High blood pressure, refers to a blood pressure that is higher than normal. It is also called hypertension. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure (or hypertension).
Pregnancy is defined as the state of carrying a fetus in the female body which will take a period of nine months for the fetus to be well developed. Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woman.
High blood pressure in pregnancy is a condition that has rapidly increased over the years, but with good blood pressure control, you and your baby are likely to stay safe.
What Causes High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
Factors that can cause a pregnant woman to develop high blood pressure include the following:
- Smoking cigarettes: A woman that smokes tends to develop high blood pressure condition before or after pregnancy. If she develops before pregnancy, it called a chronic hypertension.
- Stress: Stress is another factor that leads to hypertension. When a woman lacks rest and is stressed out excessively, it bloods tends not to flow normally and it leads to hypertension.
- Race: There are some family that has this health condition (hypertension) in their blood line. A woman from this race is likely to have hypertension too.
- High level of cholesterol: A woman with high level of cholesterol is likely to have a high blood pressure.
- Being overweight
- Drinking alcohol
Types of high blood pressure in pregnancy (hypertension)
There are different kinds of hypertension during pregnancy, they include:
- Chronic hypertension: Chronic hypertension occurs when the pregnant woman had already had high blood pressure before pregnancy or it developed after 20 weeks of the pregnancy.
- Gestational hypertension: Gestational hypertension only occurs during pregnancy and without the presence of protein in the urine or changes in liver function. Women usually develop this condition in the second half, or after the first 20 weeks, of their pregnancy. The gestational hypertension is temporary and it can stop after child birth.
- Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure condition that women can develop during pregnancy or after giving birth. It is a serious condition that can have severe consequences. It usually occurs in the third trimester. It rarely occurs after delivery, but it is possible.
The effect of Preeclampsia includes; severe headache, tiredness, iIt causes the legs and face to swell, iIrritability, it shortens one’s breath causes nausea and vomiting. It also causes pain in the abdomen, it causes blurred vision, that is, it makes it impossible for the woman to see clearly.
The effects of high blood pressure in pregnancy
When high blood pressure occurs during pregnancy, it has effect on both the mother and the baby (fetus).
High Blood pressure in Pregnancy: Effect on the mother
One of the major effect of high blood pressure in women is that the woman will face higher risk of health conditions later in her life. She will face serious health issues as she continues to age.
Other effect includes:
- Hypertension also leads to stroke in women.
- Preterm delivery: This is a health condition that occurs in women. It happens when a woman gives birth before the due date.
High Blood pressure in Pregnancy: Effect on the baby
High blood pressure also has effect on the babies. The major effect of hypertension on babies is that it causes complications during birth.
This complications includes:
- Infant death: infant death is one the effect of hypertension on babies. A child that the mother was diagnosed with hypertension during pregnancy has 90% possibility of dying at birth.
- Smaller- than -average size: hypertension causes the size of the baby to be smaller than the actual size.
- Difficulty in breathing: hypertension leads to undeveloped lungs in a child thereby making it difficult for the child to breathe very well.
Treatment of high blood pressure in pregnancy
High blood pressure is not a death sentence, it can be treated the same way other health conditions can be treated. Pregnant women that are diagnosed with hypertension are advised to take antihypertensive medications. Since everybody reacts differently to medications, a particular medication may not work on all the pregnant women. So it is advisable for the pregnant women to seek the help of an healthcare provider to recommend a medication to her depending on the level of her hypertension.
If gestational hypertension is severe or a woman develops preeclampsia or eclampsia, a doctor may prescribe medications to lower her blood pressure and help the baby mature if the pregnancy is not full-term. Women may be hospitalized for monitoring. Healthcare providers may recommend anticonvulsive medications, such as magnesium sulfate, to prevent seizures in people with eclampsia or preeclampsia. Women who are pregnant should speak with their healthcare provider about ways to control their blood pressure.
Prevention of high blood pressure in pregnancy
The following are some of the ways to lower hypertension during pregnancy;
- Getting regular exercise: Exercising regularly is one of the ways in which high blood pressure can be prevented. When a pregnant woman exercise, it helps to burn down some cholesterol, therefore, making the heart to pump blood in a normally.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking leads to hypertension. Therefore, a woman who normally smokes should avoid smoking and drinking of alcohol so as to prevent hypertension.
- Limit on salt intake.
- Eating a balanced diet
- Stay hydrated Although, the following measures above can help control high blood pressure during pregnancy, It is important to note that some risk factors, such as family history, race, and past pregnancy history, are not within a person’s control. For this reason, not all cases of hypertension in pregnancy are preventable.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, during pregnancy can be life-threatening to a woman in some cases but there is hope if it is treated early but when hypertension is left untreated it cause serious health complications to both the baby and the mother. Hypertension is treatable and preventable just like other health complications, is just for you to do the needful by seeking from help from a doctor.