Hypertension in Pregnancy causes Symptoms and Treatment

Pregnancy is an exciting time in any woman’s life with a precious little baby to look forward to. Monthly doctors visits will be scheduled and during the last month or two these visits will become as often as every week.

During each visit a doctor will listen to the new moms heart and take her blood pressure. A womans blood pressure is considered to be high when it reaches 140/90. Most pregnant women that have high blood pressure have healthy babies without any serious complications, but, high blood pressure can be cause for concern for both mother and baby. High blood pressure can be the cause of low birth weight, early delivery and can also damage organs such as kidneys and heart in both mother and baby.

There are typically three types of pregnancy induced hypertension.

Gestational hypertension

This is the most common form of hypertension during pregnancy. Diagnosed most frequently during the latter half of a woman’s pregnancy, Gestational hypertension is marked by a blood pressure of 140/90. No other symptoms occur with this type of hypertension.

Preeclampsia

A far more serious form of hypertension in pregnancy, preecalmpsia is diagnosed when a mother’s blood pressure is higher than 140/90. This type of hypertension is also accompanied by protein found in the mother’s urine.

Eclampsia

Eclampsia is one of the most severe forms of pregnancy hypertension. Eclampsia can cause convulsions, coma or even death for mother or baby in the late stages of pregnancy.

What causes pregnancy induced hypertension

Generally speaking, there is no known cause for pregnancy induced hypertension. If a woman already has high blood pressure she may be at increased risk for hypertension during pregnancy and her doctor will monitor her progress very closely.

For woman with no prior hypertension doctors are unsure of the cause but many believe that If a woman is under the age of 20 and over the age of 40 they are at a higher risk. Often a woman will have pregnancy induced hypertension only in a first pregnancy. Diet and other risk factors will also be discussed with a doctor during diagnosis with a plan to avoid caffeine and salt in the mothers diet until after delivery.

Symptoms

In many cases the mother will feel just fine in spite of her hypertension. She won’t have a clue she even has a medical issue to be concerned about until her next pre natal visit. In advanced stages pregnancy induced hypertension will cause swelling in the neck or face, sudden weight gain, dizziness, blurred vision, flashing lights in her eyes and possibly even seizures. Medications will be started immediately and the treatments will continue as follows.

Treatments

For many women, diet alone will do the trick and reduce the blood pressure. Avoiding salt and caffeine and getting plenty of fluids and bed rest may be added if the diet plan isn’t lowering the blood pressure enough.

In extreme cases doctors will prescribe a blood pressure lowering medication to treat the high blood pressure. At this stage many mothers to be will be hospitalized while the doctors try to stabilize the blood pressure. This will be combined with the above treatments to help reduce the blood pressure and give the baby a chance to develop to at least 34 weeks of gestational age.

In even more extreme cases, If a baby is not yet 34 weeks of gestational age but is close, the doctors will give the mother an injection to help speed the development of the babies lungs so that they can either induce or do a cesarean section on the mother to be and deliver the baby early.

After delivery the mother’s blood pressure will usually go back to its normal state within about 6 weeks.