When a woman becomes pregnant, it is crucial that she adheres strictly to medical advice aimed at keeping her in the best health possible, in order to prevent against complications arising from the pregnancy. The focus on self-care is especially important in mothers with underlying health disorders, with one particularly dangerous condition being hypertension during pregnancy. This condition is one of the three main causes of fatalities in pregnant mothers, with 10-15% of fatalities attributed to preeclampsia.
Blood pressure with systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mm Hg on two occasions at least 4 hours apart, can be categorized into the following 6 main conditions.
1. Gestational Hypertension: Blood pressure of ≥ 140 mm Hg systolic or ≥ 90 mm Hg diastolic, on two occasions at least 4 hours after 20 weeks of gestation, and blood pressure levels return to normal in the 12th week after birth.
2. Preeclampsia (with and without severe features)
2.1 Gestational hypertension with proteinuria
2.2 Without proteinuria, gestational hypertension with the new onset of any of the following:
2.3 Preeclampsia with severe feature
3. HELLP syndrome: Increase rates of maternal morbidity and mortality
4. Eclampsia: The convulsion
5. Chronic hypertension: Having high blood pressure that was present prior to the pregnancy or which occurred before the 20th week of pregnancy.
6. Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: A chronic hypertension in associated with preeclampsia
In any case, if you experience any abnormalities or you observe that your infant has made less than 10 movements in a day, you should seek medical attention immediately.
The increase in blood pressure that comes with this condition may not return to normal levels immediately after birth. New mothers should, therefore, undertake postnatal blood pressure screening. Generally, high blood pressure that comes with a pregnancy will return to normal no more than 12 weeks after the birth. Where the blood pressure remains high subsequent to this period of time, it could be a signifier of pre-existing hypertension, for which treatment from a qualified physician should be sought.
Hypertension has the potential to affect one repeatedly, with each subsequent episode likely to increase in severity. For this reason, any subsequent pregnancies should be placed under the care of a doctor as soon as the pregnancy is known because of the associated health risks and possibility of preeclampsia occurring. To find out more about preeclampsia, click here.
Placing your pregnancy under the care of a medical team is of great importance. It is also essential that you attend all doctor consultations as each one will involve measuring your weight and taking your blood pressure, as well as screening for proteins and glucose in your urine. In cases where doctors identify risk factors or high blood pressure during pregnancy, they will be able to offer treatment and/or prevention against numerous other health complications, including preeclampsia.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine Khon Kaen University , 2001