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High Blood Pressure & Pregnancy

Some women have high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can put the mother and her baby at risk for certain problems.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a prevalent condition in which the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is too high. This serious health condition can eventually cause health issues and heart disease. Your blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood that your heart pumps, and the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. If your heart pumps a lot of blood and your arteries are narrow, then your blood pressure will be high.

Some women have high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can put the mother and her baby at risk for specific challenges. Hypertension can also cause issues during and after delivery. However, with reasonable blood pressure control, you and your baby can remain healthy.

Blood pressure measurements:

  • Normal: below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Elevated: systolic pressure ranging from 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic pressure that is below 80 mm Hg.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: systolic pressure ranging from 130-139 mm Hg and diastolic pressure ranging from 80-89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher.

What are the causes?

Primary hypertension and secondary hypertension are the two types of high blood pressure. With primary, there is no identifiable cause; it naturally develops over time. With secondary, hypertension is caused by an underlying condition or a medication. Obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid issues, kidney conditions, adrenal gland tumors, congenital disabilities in the blood vessels, alcohol abuse, and cocaine or amphetamine use can all lead to secondary hypertension.

Risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • A lack of physical activity
  • Tobacco use
  • High levels of sodium
  • Low levels of potassium
  • Low levels of Vitamin D
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Kidney disease

Hypertension is a manageable condition under the supervision of a licensed medical professional.

What are some high blood pressure complications during pregnancy?

Complications from hypertension for the mother include:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Eclampsia (seizures)
  • Stroke
  • The need for labor induction
  • Placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus)

Complications for the baby include:

  • Preterm delivery (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Low birth weight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces)

Additionally, the mother’s hypertension makes it more difficult for the baby to get enough oxygen and nutrients to grow. As a result, you may have to deliver your baby early.

We at Unity Maternal Fetal Medicine encourage you to schedule an appointment with your provider to ensure you are healthy before, during, and after your pregnancy.

How can I lower my blood pressure?

Your blood pressure is mainly in your own hands, as you can lower it with exercise and a healthy diet. If you are in your 30s or 40s, a healthy goal is less than 140/90 mm Hg. If you do have hypertension and you are trying to get pregnant, Dr. Heather Stanley-Christian will discuss the different treatments and lifestyle choices with you. By combining the right treatment with diet and exercise, you can quickly improve your blood pressure.

Request an appointment in Winter Garden, Florida

If you are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant and you have hypertension, schedule an appointment with Dr. Stanley-Christian. Dr. Stanley-Christian is a board-certified OB/GYN with additional board certifications in Maternal-fetal Medicine and Clinical Genetics. She specializes in high-risk pregnancy and will ensure that you and your baby receive the appropriate care and attention. Call (352) 404-5544 or fill out the form below to request your consultation online.