Are tough-sounding medical terms stealing your pregnancy’s joy? Well, from knowing the signs and symptoms to risks and prevention, here’s everything about preeclampsia hypertension!
Hey there! Pregnancy brings loads of joy to both parents. While you’re expecting, your body undergoes many changes. And sometimes both physical and mental changes are seen in pregnant women. However, these changes affect the baby, too. So, maintaining a proper diet, exercise and mental wellness is important. But sometimes, you may even encounter a few medical terms that sound too difficult to understand. But it ain’t rocket science! And that’s why we’re here to help!
Preeclampsia is a blood pressure disorder during pregnancy that may get serious enough to affect all organs of the woman’s body. Usually, preeclampsia is experienced after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The blood pressure will be 160/110 with additional medical symptoms like headaches.
What is Preeclampsia Hypertension?
High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. High blood pressure, is when your blood travels through blood vessels with more force than is considered healthy. Preeclampsia hypertension is a serious complication that some women experience in pregnancy that leads to abnormalities in the organs.
But all types of headaches cannot be categorized as preeclampsia. In some cases, the blood pressure increases in the second or third trimester. This is called gestational hypertension, but it can lead to preeclampsia.
What is Gestational Hypertension?
Gestational hypertension or pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) is a condition of hypertension amongst pregnant women. It also usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In this condition, usually, the blood pressure will be higher than 140/90 measured on two separate occasions, without the presence of protein in the urine.
Gestational Hypertension Symptoms
Currently, there is no diagnostic test that can predict the likelihood of developing gestational hypertension. High blood pressure and protein in the urine or proteinuria are related to gestational hypertension symptoms. There are other symptoms that are associated with this condition, like:
- Severe headaches
- Sudden weight gain
- Edema (clinically, edema is the term for swelling)
- Nausea and blood-vomits
- Persistent headaches
- Blood in urine
- Double vision
- Rapid heartbeat
Risks of Gestational Hypertension
The risks of hypertension in pregnancy are almost similar to those of gestational and preeclampsia. There are numerous risks related to gestational hypertension like:
1. Usually, the risks of gestational hypertension are higher in women carrying multiple babies, teenage mothers and in women older than 40 years of age.
2. The placenta is an organ, which gives oxygen and food to your baby. PIH can prevent the placenta from getting enough blood. If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, the baby gets less oxygen and food. This further leads to low birth weight and other serious health issues for the baby.
3. It may even be possible to develop a condition called eclampsia. Eclampsia is a condition in which one or more convulsions occur in pregnant women suffering from high blood pressure, which leads to coma.
4. If you have a past history of diabetes mellitus or renal diseases (kidney diseases), then you may be prone to gestational hypertension.
5. Chronic hypertension and kidney donation may lead to gestational hypertension.
When Do You Get Preeclampsia?
Usually, preeclampsia hypertension occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
What Causes High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?
There are a few reasons that cause hypertension during pregnancy like:
- Consumption of alcohol and smoking before pregnancy
- Inactive lifestyle or less physical activities
- First-time pregnancy
- Conceiving after the age of 40
- Carrying more than one child
- A family history of pregnancy-related hypertension
- Technology such as IVF
What is Considered Normal Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?
The normal blood pressure is noted by your doctor during your first visit, which forms as the baseline. And the blood pressure will be measured during every visit later. However, an ideal or normal blood pressure during pregnancy is 120/80 mm Hg.
Many of our readers have questions like, “Can you have preeclampsia with normal blood pressure?” There are less chances to develop preeclampsia in such cases.
What is Considered High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?
Blood pressure that is greater than 140/90 mm Hg, or atleast 15 degrees higher than the baseline when your pregnancy started is considered to be high blood pressure during pregnancy.
It is also recommended to visit a doctor if you have high blood pressure before pregnancy.
How Common is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia hypertension affects around 5 percent of pregnancies. But if untreated, it may lead to the life-threatening condition, eclampsia.
Preeclampsia Signs and Symptoms
The signs of preeclampsia hypertension are similar to that of gestational hypertension. And there are two types of conditions known as mild preeclampsia and severe preeclampsia. So, let’s check out the symptoms of preeclampsia are:
1. The signs of mild preeclampsia include high blood pressure, water retention and protein in the urine.
2. While in the case of severe preeclampsia or severe hypertension, headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, urinating small amounts, pain in the upper abdomen, shortness of breath and tendency to bruise are common. It’s better to contact your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Preeclampsia Blood Test
When you visit your doctor for a prenatal checkup, your blood pressure, urine levels shall be checked. A blood test is also done, which may show the signs of preeclampsia hypertension.
In a few cases, other tests are also conducted like ultrasound scan to check the baby’s growth, kidney and blood-clotting functions are checked and Doppler scan is conducted to measure the efficiency of blood flow to the placenta.
Side Effects of Preeclampsia | Risks of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
High blood pressure during pregnancy may result in many risk factors that include:
1. Placental breakage: Preeclampsia hypertension increases the risk wherein the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. Severe placental abruption can cause heavy bleeding, which can be life-threatening to the mother and the baby.
2. Intrauterine growth restriction: In this condition, there will be a decreased growth of your baby.
3. Decreased blood flow to placenta: If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, the baby will receive less oxygen and fewer nutrients. This will lead to slow growth, low birth weight or premature birth of the baby.
4. Injury to other organs: If preeclampsia hypertension is not treated in the initial stages, it may lead to injury of brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and other major organs.
5. Premature delivery: Prematurity will thus result in breathing problems, increased risk of infections and other complications for the baby.
6. Future cardiovascular diseases: You can be prone to future cardiovascular diseases if you’ve had preeclampsia more than once.
7. Eclampsia: This is a severe form of preeclampsia that leads to seizures in mothers-to-be.
8. HELLP syndrome: HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count) is a condition that occurs late in pregnancy. It affects the breakdown of red blood cells, blood clots and liver functions of pregnant women.
For the diagnosis of preeclampsia hypertension, both of the following tests should come back as positive:
1. Hypertension: If the pregnant woman’s blood pressure is too high. with a blood pressure reading above 140/90 millimeters of mercury is abnormal in pregnancy.
2. Proteinuria: If protein is detected in the urine, then there are chances of preeclampsia. Urine samples are collected over 12 hours or more and the amount of protein is assessed. This helps to detect the severity of the condition.
Sometimes, the doctor may advise having further diagnostic tests:
1. Blood tests: This is done to check how well the kidneys are functioning.
2. Fetal ultrasound: The baby’s progress will be closely monitored to make sure they are growing properly.
3. Non-stress test: Doctors check the baby’s heartbeats when they move. If the heartbeat increases 15 beats or more a minute for at least 15 seconds twice every 20 minutes, it is an indication that everything is normal.
The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery. There’s an increased risk of seizures, placental abruption, stroke and possibly severe bleeding until the blood pressure decreases. If you’re at your early stages of pregnancy, delivery might not be an option.
If you’ve had blood pressure and planning to get pregnant, it’s always safe to consult your healthcare advisor. It’s also important to attend prenatal sessions more often if you had preeclampsia in previous pregnancies.
If preeclampsia hypertension symptoms are predicted in the early stages of pregnancy, then the doctor may advise the pregnant woman to rest in bed. Resting helps to lower the blood pressure, which in turn increases the flow of blood to placenta, which will benefit the baby.
How to Prevent Preeclampsia in Pregnancy?
Currently, there is no sure way to prevent preeclampsia. There are a few contributing factors that can be controlled and a few can’t be. However, it’s safe to follow your doctor’s instructions. We have compiled a few points to prevent preeclampsia hypertension:
1. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise. Avoid stress by practicing yoga.
Also, read: Prana Yoga: The Benefits of Breathe Yoga & A Beginner’s Guide
2. Use less amount or no added salt to your meals.
3. Drink atleast 33 ounces of water per day.
4. Avoid fried and junk food.
5. Get enough rest.
6. Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking. Beverages that contain caffeine should also be avoided.
7. Whether you’re trying to conceive or are already pregnant, keep a regular check on your blood pressure and seek doctor’s advice if it’s too high.
Is Blood Pressure Medication Safe for Pregnancy?
If you need medication to control your blood pressure during pregnancy, your healthcare provider will prescribe the safest medication. Take the medication exactly as prescribed and never adjust the dose on your own.
Methyldopa and labetalol are both drugs that have been deemed to be safe for use to manage blood pressure during pregnancy.
But according to Mayo Clinic, these medications for lowering blood pressure should be avoided:
1. ACE inhibitors
2. Renin inhibitors
3. Angiotensin receptor blockers
Preeclampsia Medication | Magnesium Toxicity Preeclampsia
If preeclampsia hypertension is diagnosed close to the end of pregnancy, the doctors may advice to deliver your baby as soon as possible. In very severe cases, if there is no other choice then the doctor may prescribe induced labor or a cesarean delivery.
During childbirth, the mother may be given magnesium sulfate to improve uterine blood flow. This also helps to prevent seizures. The symptoms of preeclampsia should go away within a few weeks of delivery.
So, that was all about preeclampsia hypertension. Let us know your thoughts and comments below or by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja!
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Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17