If well managed, high blood pressure isn’t always dangerous in pregnancy but if care is not taken, it can cause serious health complications for both mother and child.  High blood pressure/ Hypertension is a blood pressure higher than or equal to 130/80 mm Hg.


Causes of High blood pressure.

The possible causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:

  1. Consumption of alcohol
  2. Smoking
  3. Being overweight or obese
  4. Carrying more than one baby
  5. Not doing enough physical activities
  6. Family history of hypertension during pregnancy
  7. Having diabetes or certain autoimmune diseases
  8. Age (over 35)
  9. Assistive reproductive technology (IVF)
  10. First time pregnancy


Pregnancy-related blood pressure conditions can be divided into three, they include;

  1. Chronic hypertension: there might have been a preexisting high blood pressure or hypertension before getting pregnant, this is refer to as chronic hypertension. Doctors also consider high blood pressure in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy to be chronic hypertension.
  2. Gestational hypertension: This develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and it mostly resolves after delivery.
  3. Superimposed preeclampsia: Women who have chronic hypertension before getting pregnant can develop preeclampsia, this occurs when there’s protein in their urine or additional complications as the pregnancy progresses.


How to track blood pressure during pregnancy.

Blood pressure reading is a fraction i.e systolic/diastolic blood pressure. The top is the systolic which is the measurement of the pressure on the arteries when the heart is beating forward through the body while the diastolic is the lower and is the measurement of the blood pressure on the arteries when the heart is at rest. Normal blood pressure is anything less than 120/80 mm Hg, it is consider high when it goes above 130/90 mm Hg.

Early in pregnancy, around 5th week to the middle of the second trimester, pregnant woman’s blood pressure may decrease due to some certain pregnancy hormones that can stimulate blood vessels to widen which as a result resistance to blood flow is not as high.

There isn’t a certain number that is consider low blood pressure but there are some symptoms associated to low pressure, they are;

* Nausea

* Constant headache

* Dizziness

* Cold clammy skin

* Feeling faint etc

There may be changes in the blood pressure as the pregnancy progresses, this is because the amount of blood in the woman’s body increase there by giving the heart more blood to pump. The left ventricle (the left side of the heart that does a significant amount of pumping) becomes thicker and larger, although this is temporary (until the baby is born) it allows the heart to work harder to support the increase in the volume of blood. The kidney also increased the amount of vasopressin, a hormone that is responsible for the increased water retention. In most cases, high blood pressure during pregnancy decreases on its own once the baby is born but if it remain elevated, your doctor will prescribe medications to help get it back to normal.

Your blood pressure can be monitored during every antenatal visits and you can as well buy blood pressure monitor from the pharmacy to keep track of your blood pressure at home.

Complications of high blood pressure during pregnancy ( preeclampsia)

Preeclampsia can cause serious damage to your organs including brain and kidney. Preeclampsia is a serious condition and it needs serious medical attention. Here are the symptoms of preeclampsia

  1. Abnormal swelling in hands and face
  2. Upper abdominal pain
  3. Nausea/ vomiting later in pregnancy
  4. Persistent headache
  5. Difficulty in breathing
  6. Seeing spots or having changes in vision

See your doctor immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms because preeclampsia can be dangerous for you and your baby.


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