| Hypertension During Pregnancy
Between 6 and 8 percent of all pregnant women will develop high blood pressure (hypertension); and about 70 percent of those cases are first time pregnancies. Assuming you entered pregnancy with a healthy blood pressure level, your risk of developing hypertension increases if you:
• Are obese.
• Are aged under 20 or over 40.
• Are expecting twins or multiple babies.
• Have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, scleroderma or lupus.
Although many pregnant women who develop raised blood pressure go on to have healthy babies without serious problems, high blood pressure does have its dangers. These include having a low birth weight baby, entering premature labor and developing preeclampsia. This is why your pregnancy healthcare team will routinely monitor your blood pressure during your prenatal visits. If it does start to rise you will be asked to come back more often for closer monitoring.
If You Already Have High Blood Pressure
If you are not yet pregnant but already have high blood pressure, talk first to your doctor about a prenatal care guide and how to prepare for pregnancy. Taking steps to lower your blood pressure before pregnancy will go a long way to ensuring the well being of both you and baby. This may include making lifestyle changes, taking more exercise and losing weight if necessary. If you take blood pressure drugs, you may need to stop taking them when you fall pregnant. ACE inhibitor drugs and angiotensin II receptor antagonists are usually prohibited. Other medications may be Ok to take, but never stop taking medications without your doctor's approval.
Types Of High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy
Chronic Hypertension: High blood pressure that develops before pregnancy or in the first 20 weeks. Or, raised blood pressure that lasts longer than 12 weeks after childbirth.
Gestational Hypertension: High blood pressure that develops after week 20. It usually goes away after delivery.
Preeclampsia: Sometimes gestational or chronic hypertension can lead to a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia. This condition is fatal and needs to be treated immediately. The rate of preeclampsia has been climbing significantly in the past few decades, primarily because the average age of mothers is increasing. The number of births to women over the age of 45 is at the highest in 30 years. Also, rates are rising due to increasing demands for IVF treatment in older women who are giving births to twins and triplets.
• Need more? See: Heart Disease in Pregnancy /Hypertension during Pregnancy
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions
Check out the symptoms of hypertension as well as the causes of high blood pressure.
Why is high blood pressure dangerous?
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