High blood pressure (HBP) is a common issue, but it can be especially risky for pregnant women. Partnering with a qualified women’s health provider can keep you and your baby safe and healthy. Whether you are trying to prevent this condition or are concerned about how to manage it, the following information can help you develop an action plan and find peace of mind.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
According to recent data from the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is defined by a reading of 130/80 or above. Numbers of 140/90 or higher are considered Stage 2. Pregnant women are diagnosed with the condition if they receive high readings on at least two occasions, at least four hours apart.
Women can have chronic HBP, which occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy, or a gestational form that emerges after the 20-week mark. Some expectant mothers receive a diagnosis of superimposed pre-eclampsia, which means the chronic form is worsening. This occurs when a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant and exhibits signs of organ damage along with high blood pressure. Your obstetrician will need to monitor your health until you deliver.
What Are the Risks?
High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, congenital disabilities, low birth weight, slow growth, and increased risk of delivery complications. Other possible problems include injury to your organs and an increased chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Pre-eclampsia can lead to a severe event called placental abruption, which causes substantial bleeding and could be life-threatening for you and your child.
What Are the Symptoms?
Tell your women’s health provider if you receive multiple high blood pressure readings, experience swelling in your face or hands, or have persistent headaches. You should also visit a doctor immediately if you have changes in eyesight, gain weight suddenly, or have pain in the upper abdomen or shoulders. Other signs include difficulty breathing and severe nausea and vomiting in the second half of your pregnancy.
How Can I Prevent This?
Staying active and managing your weight are the most effective ways to prevent HBP during pregnancy. Overweight and obese women are more likely to develop gestational blood pressure problems, as are those who smoke or drink alcohol. If chronic high blood pressure is a pre-existing condition, then work with our doctor to manage it before trying to conceive. Other risk factors include first pregnancies, a maternal age over 40, IVF use, and a family history of the condition.
If you have questions about how blood pressure can affect your pregnancy, then trust the experienced women’s health team at Johnson Regional Medical Center in Clarksville, AR. This hospital is equipped to do more major surgeries, patient rehab, and trauma care than surrounding facilities, meaning they are prepared to meet your needs. Call (479) 754-5454 to schedule an appointment, and visit their website for information about their OB-GYN services.