The extent of force that is applied by blood on the walls of the artery while flowing through it is called blood pressure. The pressure of blood is considered to be high, when the reading of systolic pressure is 140 mm of Hg or more and diastolic pressure is 90 mm of Hg or more. The reading is mentioned as 140/90 mm of Hg. High blood pressure can be harmful for the body in several ways. It can lead to coronary heart disease, stroke, kidney failure etc.
It can be a major cause of concern when a woman has high blood pressure during her pregnancy.Hypertension can lead to many complications during pregnancy. It can lead to preeclampsia, premature birth, low birth weight, placenta abruption, and eclampsia, a life threatening condition. Thus every pregnant woman should monitor her blood pressure and control it if it is high.
What Causes High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?
Two type of high blood pressure can develop during pregnancy. Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that develops only during pregnancy. Chronic high blood pressure is preexisting high blood pressure; it means the woman is having high blood pressure even before pregnancy. Chronic hypertension persists even after birth of the baby.
Gestational high blood pressure usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and goes away after she gives birth to the baby. There are several causes contributing to high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Obesity: A woman who is obese before getting pregnant is at greater risk of suffering from hypertension during her pregnancy.
- Unhealthy living: Living unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking, drinking alcohol, staying inactive, etc are major concerns that may cause hypertension in a pregnant woman.
- Age: Women under the age of 20 and above the age of 35 years.
- First pregnancy: Many women who are pregnant for the first time are more at risk of having high blood pressure. The risk decreases in subsequent second or third pregnancy.
- Twins: Women having more than one baby in her womb are likely to develop high blood pressure.
- Systemic diseases: High blood pressure is common in pregnant woman suffering from kidney disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
- Previous history of complications: Previous history of preeclampsia, a complication of high blood pressure in pregnancy. It is a condition which is characterized by high blood pressure, and passage of protein in urine of the pregnant woman. It can affect placenta and the fetal growth. When seizures occur in preeclampsia, the condition is called eclampsia which is can lead to death.
How To Control High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?
High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to many complications affecting the baby as well as the mother. In the baby it increases the risk of stillbirth, low birth weight, premature birth. In mother it can give rise to problems such as preeclampsia, headaches, swelling in legs and feet, cesarean section etc.
Managing high blood pressure is the best way to prevent untoward problems that may occur during pregnancy. Here are few important steps:
- The pregnant woman should undergo prenatal check up even if she is feeling well. The doctor will check her blood pressure along with her general health condition.
- If hypertension is detected, she should take medicines daily as prescribed by the doctor.
- She should eat healthy diet and live a better lifestyle. She has to stop smoking and drinking. Stay active and exercise daily. Walking for 30 minutes in a day is the best exercise. Eat less salt containing food.
- It is also important to monitor the blood pressure regularly if a woman has high blood pressure in her pregnancy.
- Manage stress by practicing yoga and meditation.