High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy (Gestational Hypertension)

High blood pressure, or hypertension, in pregnancy can lead to serious complications for you and your baby, so it is important that you work with your obstetrician and/or perinatologist to keep your blood pressure under control.

There are three types of HTN issues: CHTN, gestational hypertension and preeclampsia.

  • Chronic hypertension refers to high blood pressure that a woman had before becoming pregnant.
  • Gestational hypertension is elevated blood pressure in pregnancy. It occurs in about 3 in 50 pregnancies and generally goes away after you have delivered your baby.

Because both types can affect the health of you and your child while you’re pregnant, your Hoag team is here to help you maintain control of your blood pressure.

Causes of Gestational Hypertension

While causes are unknown, risk factors include:

  • high blood pressure before pregnancy or with a past pregnancy
  • kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • being younger than 20 or older than 40 at time of pregnancy
  • carrying multiples, such as twins or triplets
  • being African American
Symptoms of Gestational Hypertension

While some women don’t experience any symptoms, others experience signs of high blood pressure, such as:

  • persistent headache
  • edema (swelling)
  • sudden weight gain
  • vision changes, such as blurred or double vision
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pain in the upper right side of your belly, or pain around your stomach
  • decrease in urine production
Diagnosis & Treatment

If your doctor is concerned about your symptoms or your blood pressure, they may order urine tests, liver and kidney function tests, blood clotting tests or other exams to make sure that you are not experiencing gestational hypertension.

If you do have gestational hypertension, your doctor will check your blood pressure more often. You may also be given corticosteroids to help your baby’s lungs mature, if it appears your baby will be born early.

Your doctor will work with you to perform tests to check on the health of your baby, including:

  • Fetal movement counting. Your doctor will ask you to keep track of your baby’s kicks and movements. A change in the number of kicks or how often your baby kicks may mean your baby is under stress.
  • Nonstress testing. This test measures your baby’s heart rate in response to its movements.
  • Biophysical profile. This test combines a nonstress test with an ultrasound to watch your baby.
  • Doppler flow studies. This test is a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the flow of your baby’s blood through a blood vessel.

Gestational hypertension can affect all the organs of your body, lead to preeclampsia and even death. Due to the risks this condition poses, your doctor may recommend that you deliver your baby at 37 weeks.

Catch It Early

Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce your risk of complications. So, go to your prenatal checkups and call your doctor if you have any concerning symptoms, such as persistent headache, blurred or double vision, swelling or a reduction in your urine production.