The above term refers to a condition of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Pregnancy induced hypertension, gestation hypertension or high blood pressure during pregnancy, if untreated or not managed properly can lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia (a condition of high blood pressure that can cause damage to other organs, especially kidneys). Hypertension during pregnancy affects about 7-9% of all pregnant women.
Pregnancy Induced Hypertension — Types Of Hypertension During Pregnancy
High blood pressure can present itself in a different ways during pregnancy. The following are the 3 most common types of gestational hypertension.
- Chronic Hypertension: Women who are either affected by high blood pressure (over 140/90) even before pregnancy, or in normal daily life, or develop high blood pressure at the beginning of pregnancy (before 20 weeks), or continue to suffer from raised blood pressure even after delivery, are said to have chronic blood pressure.
- Gestational Hypertension: Blood pressure develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and wards off after delivery
- Preeclampsia: This condition of high blood pressure is accompanied by risk of damage to other organs, especially the kidneys and results in excess protein in urine. It happens due to both chronic hypertension and gestational hypertension after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This condition is serious for both the mother and the baby.
Pregnancy Induced Hypertension — Diagnosis
Preeclampsia is diagnosed when blood pressure remains elevated for a period of time during pregnancy and proteins are found in urine after 20 weeks of gestation.The condition is considered to be serious if it becomes prolonged and a greater degree of protein is found in the urine. Other symptoms include:
- Low output of urine
- Cerebral or visual disturbances
- Excess fluid in the lungs
- Bluish discoloration of the skin due to poor circulation or inadequate oxygenation of blood.
- Impaired liver function
- Deficiency of platelets
Intrauterine growth restriction (refers to a condition in which an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb).
The Following Conditions Increase The Risk Of Developing The Condition
- Women becoming mother for the first time
- Family history i.e., women whose mothers and sisters have also been affected by the condition
- Women carrying multiple babies
- If the age is less than 20 or greater than 40
- Women who were hypertensive even before pregnancy or are suffering from a kidney disease
How To Evaluate Gestational Hypertension?
The gynecologist evaluates the condition at prenatal visits by checking blood pressure and ordering tests for blood and urine levels which may show if you have hypertension. The health care provider may order other tests that include kidney function tests and blood-clotting functions; ultrasound scan to check baby’s growth; and Doppler scan to measure the efficiency with which blood flows to the placenta.
How Is Gestational Hypertension Treated?
The best option for which the obstetrician or gynecologist goes for treating the condition is to deliver the baby if the last trimester is close to the due date and the baby is developed enough. This is in the best interest of both the mother and the baby. The fetus will be prevented from adverse effects of high blood pressure.
If hypertension is mild and the baby is not fully developed, then the doctor might recommend you do the following:
- In order to take off the weight of the baby from your major blood vessels, the doctor will suggest the patient to lie on her left side while resting.
- Be more regular for prenatal checkups
- Use salt in minimum quantity.
- Intake of water should be in sufficient quantity; drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
In case of severe hypertension, the doctor will prescribe medication until the baby is delivered safely.
How Does Gestational Hypertension Affect The Baby?
Hypertension affects the baby in a manner that the blood supply to the placenta is restricted which is crucial for the baby’s safety and development. If the blood supply is inadequate to the placenta ,the baby gets less oxygen and food. This can result in low birth weight. If hypertension is detected and treated as early as possible, most women can still deliver a healthy baby .In case hypertension is not controlled properly, it can lead to preeclmapsia which can result in serious complications for both the mother and the baby.
How Can I Prevent Gestational Hypertension?
Preventing hypertension in obese and the ones above the age of 35 is challenging. Currently, there is no sure way to prevent hypertension. The major contributing factors to high blood pressure are diet and lack of exercise. These should be controlled to an extent so that hypertension does not develop. Follow your doctor’s instruction about diet and exercise.
- Excessive use of salt should be avoided as it causes water retention in the body leading to swelling; especially of feet
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
- The diet should comprise mostly of protein, while fried and junk food should be avoided.
- Make sure you get enough rest
- Be more physically active; try to exercise regularly
- Elevate your feet several times during the day
- Alcohol should be strictly avoided
- Caffeinated beverages should not be consumed
- The doctor may prescribe certain medicines and additional supplements
Hypertension during pregnancy is the most common complication especially among women aged greater than 35 years and it can best be prevented by regular exercise, avoiding high fat meals and maintaining a healthy weight.