Pregnancy Hypertension in Nutshell

By HealthSignz | Published: May 17th, 2017

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With numerous cases being reported of Hypertension daily amongst adults, and it comes as no surprise that pregnant women also can be a target.

What is Hypertension in Pregnant women?

Hypertension is a condition in which there is long-term force of blood against the arteries’ walls that lead to ailments impacting heart and kidneys.

Even though the lifetime risk is same for all, different risk profiles are based on age and various other factors. In pregnant women, however, it can be classified under four categories for easy diagnosis and treatment.

Chronic Hypertension: It is a type that precedes pregnancy and is diagnosed within the first 20 weeks or in some cases does not resolve by the 12-week postpartum. Severity can be categorized as mild (≤179 mmHg Systolic and 109 mmHg Diastolic) and severe (≥ 180 mmHg Systolic and 110 mmHg Diastolic).

Gestational Hypertension: Formerly known as Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH), Gestational Hypertension occurs after 20 weeks of gestation.  Hypertension in this case usually is above ≥ 140 mmHg Systolic and ≥ 90 mmHg Diastolic. The diagnosis includes no protein in urine or signs of organ damage.

Chronic Hypertension with Superimposed Preeclampsia: In this condition women already have chronic blood pressure before pregnancy. The condition worsens if there is protein in the urine along with other health complications.

Preeclampsia: Chronic or Gestational Hypertension sometimes can lead to Preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that includes high BP and signs of damage to other organs. It usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and if left untreated it can lead to serious complications for mother and baby or can even turn fatal.

Malignant Hypertension: It is seen in pregnant women suffering from Pregnancy Toxemia, a condition where the diastolic pressure goes over 130 mmHg.

What are the causes?

Some of the causes of Hypertension in pregnant women include

  • Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking and Alcohol
  • Family history of hypertension or kidney problem
  • IVF, first time pregnancy and other pregnancy-related issue
  • Being over 40 years of age
  • Carrying more than one child

What symptoms to identify with?

One can observe the following signs and symptoms in pregnant women.

  • Constant headaches
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Excessive hands and legs swelling
  • Blurred vision or scotoma
  • Hyperreflexia
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Generalized seizures of eclampsia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decreased urine output

Know How to Monitor:

It is very important to monitor Hypertension in pregnant women owing to the health of both the mother and child.

Monitoring blood flow to placenta: Low blood flow to placenta can deprive the baby of the important nutrients as well as oxygen. This can lead to premature birth with the baby having issues with breathing. It can also lead to slow growth or low birth weight.

Risk of placental abruption: Preeclampsia is known to increase the risk of placental abruption, a condition in which placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. Abruption can cause heavy bleeding and damage to placenta, which further can be life-threatening to mother and the baby.

Risk of cardiovascular diseases: Preeclampsia can increase the risk of future cardiovascular diseases. The risk is more if the patient has had preeclampsia more than once or has delivered premature previously.

Preterm delivery: In some cases early delivery is important to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

Know How to Maintain:

It is very important to maintain blood pressure in pregnant women with an aim to keep the mother and child safe from complications.

  • Would be mothers should avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Should incorporate physical activities in daily routine to keep weight within the healthy range.
  • Should rest and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or prenatal yoga.
  • Should avoid taking any over-the-counter drugs without the doctor’s consent.
  • Should stick to homemade foods and foods free of MSG.
  • Stick to regular check-ups.
  • Eat foods that are high in fibre.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Have small and frequent meals on time.

Although many pregnant women with hypertension deliver healthy babies, it can be dangerous to both. It is recommended to consult a healthcare specialist if any signs are seen. Pregnant women should take care of themselves, because as said by the famous Chinese prolific writer and editor, “Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother”.

About the author


We are a team of professionals with a significant level of expertise spanning multiple disciplines for over four decades. Identifying health and wellness as the primary factors that drive liveliness in individuals, lead to the integration of our knowledge with our common values – the result is HealthSignz (HS). Driven by passion to contribute to the advancement of the happiness quotient and well being of communities as a whole, we are here to touch as many lives as possible by enriching them with HS.