Hypertension is defined as high blood pressure (B.P). A person has high blood pressure when the systolic pressure (the top number in BP reading) is greater than 140mmHg and the diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is greater than 90mm Hg.
Hypertension can lead to many health problems. During pregnancy severe and uncontrolled hypertension can cause complications to both mother and baby.
Causes of high blood pressure in pregnancy -
1. Chronic hypertension - is high blood pressure that is present before the lady is pregnant or that occurs in first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
2. Gestational hypertension – is high blood pressure that occurs during the second half of pregnancy that is after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
3. Pre-eclampsia - is high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy associated with proteinuria (an abnormal amount of protein in the urine) . Pre-eclampsia is a serious BP disorder which can affect all the organs of a lady.
The woman can present with complaints of severe headache, swelling over face and hands, changes in vision, vomiting, pain in upper abdomen or decrease urine output.
The RISK of developing pre-eclampsia are more in women who -
Are pregnant for the first time
Have had pre-eclampsia in previous pregnancy or have family history of pre-eclampsia.
Are 40 years or older
Have multiple pregnancy (more than 1 baby in utero)
Have history of chronic hypertension, kidney disease or both.
Have medical conditions such as diabetes, thrombophilias or lupus.
RISKS of high BP for baby -
Placental abruption that is premature detachment of placenta (afterbirth) from the wall of uterus
Intra uterine death
Hence it is very important for the lady who is planning to conceive or is pregnant to keep her BP within normal limits.
PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN FOR HIGH BP DURING PREGNANCY -
Keep the blood pressure under control.
Reduce salt intake and do physical exercise.
Loose weight if overweight .
Lady needs to discuss with her doctor that she wants to become pregnant so that the doctor may change the medication to one which are safe in pregnancy or change the dose of medication if she is trying to conceive.
2) During Pregnancy-
Take care of your diet that is a diet which is low in salts (avoid processed foods, pickles, pappad etc) and eat food rich in vitamin C, D and antioxidants.
Lifestyle modifications that is exercise regularly .Walk and practice yoga if possible and keep weight gain under control.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco
Go for antenatal check ups with your obstetrician and make sure that BP and urine are examined in each checkup. If the lady is feeling unwell any time during pregnancy , consult the doctor immediately.
Being proactive and taking care of herself, going for regular prenatal and antenatal check ups, the lady with hypertension can deliver a healthy baby.