Pregnancy – a time for joy, anticipation and increased health risks. We don’t mean to put a damper on this happy time. But with the number of pregnancy complications rising every year, it is important to reiterate the magnitude of the risks and encourage pregnant mothers to be proactive.
Gestational diabetes and hypertension are the two most common conditions that affect pregnant mothers. According to the ACOG, 10% of pregnancies are affected by the latter on a global scale.
A large number of pregnant mothers have a passive approach to their health – following their doctor’s advice verbatim, without gaining awareness about potential complications they may face. When they do experience complications, they are thrown as they don’t know how to effectively monitor and manage their lifestyle.
With COVID-19 taking over our lives, the only positive aspect that has happened is the change in prenatal care. More mothers are prompted to self-monitor and take an active part in their prenatal care.
Keep reading to know more about gestational hypertension, the various forms of it and how best to handle it for a healthy and happy pregnancy and delivery.
An Introduction to Hypertension During Pregnancy
We all know that hypertension or high blood pressure is a state of the body when the pressure of the blood pumping through your vessels are elevated. High blood pressure during pregnancy is especially a matter of concern because there are higher risks of complications during and after the gestational period.
The chances of having high blood pressure during pregnancy is based on factors such as age, history of hypertension (chronic and/or gestational), genetic predisposition, weight range, level of immunity, and mode of conceiving (normal vs. in vitro).
Having hypertension during pregnancy can affect both the mother and the unborn baby. It can slow down the development of the placenta, impacting the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the baby and slowing down its growth. It could also lead to early delivery and low birth weight in the baby.
If a pregnant mother suffers from preeclampsia, it can increase the risk of placental abruption where the placenta may separate from the uterine wall. In the mother, gestational hypertension may cause injury to other organs and increase the risk for future cardiovascular diseases.
Based on the type of hypertension that the mother suffers from, the causes and complications maybe even more worrisome.
What Are The Different Types of Gestational Hypertension That May Occur?
Before figuring out how best to prevent or manage hypertension during pregnancy, one has to understand the type of hypertension that they suffer from. Those who have high blood pressure after 20 weeks into the pregnancy are said to have gestational hypertension. In a large number of cases, this can further lead to a condition known as preeclampsia.
If a mother was already suffering from high blood pressure even before the pregnancy or within the first 20 weeks of it, they are said to have chronic hypertension. And if a pregnant woman with chronic hypertension experiences worsening of their condition and tests reveal increased protein in their urine or blood, they are said to have superimposed preeclampsia.
The most problematic type of hypertension during pregnancy is preeclampsia. This is a condition where the pregnant mother develops hypertension after the initial 20 weeks of pregnancy. This can pose serious damage to the mother’s vital organs and if untreated, it can lead to fatal complications for both the mother and the baby.
While these conditions may sound grave, paying attention to their health and consistent monitoring of their vitals can go a long way in helping pregnant mothers manage their hypertension effectively.
When Should You Get Yourself Checked For Pregnancy Hypertension?
If you’re at increased risk for hypertension during pregnancy owing to factors like existing conditions or being overweight, your doctor will work with you to create a plan to manage it effectively. This will include detailed discussions on the state of your health, readjusting any existing prescriptions, guidance on monitoring your vitals regularly and making positive lifestyle changes all of which can together assist in better managing your condition.
In case you experience blood pressure that is too elevated, or symptoms like a persistent headache, changes in vision, nausea, swelling, or breathing difficulties, you should reach out to the emergency services immediately. Even after delivery, there are chances of hypertension or preeclampsia to persist, and this should be cause for immediate treatment by your healthcare team.
How Can One Prevent and/or Manage Hypertension During Pregnancy?
Consistent self-monitoring is definitely considered the most important aspect of managing pregnancy time hypertension. Earlier, a doctor would recommend reaching out right away if the blood pressure is more elevated than usual.
Hypertensive patients would also be required to have more frequent doctor visits to constantly monitor their health. But with the current digital health apps available, it is possible for them to self-monitor, sync the acquired data and keep the doctor in the loop about the patient’s vitals in real-time.
With the help of apps like Phable, it is easier for hypertensive patients – pregnant or otherwise – to monitor their vitals consistently, get reminders about their medication, and have the doctors be in the loop about the pattern of their vitals.
Doctors may also recommend a pregnant hypertensive patient to start taking certain medications to manage their condition. Other than a few select drugs, most of the hypertension drugs prescribed in case of chronic hypertension are safe to use during pregnancy.
The constantly innovating field of medicine is always working with the therapeutic goal of preventing maternal risk without compromising on the baby’s health.
Phable is an innovative lifestyle disease management app simplifying life for patients & doctors through health monitoring and doctor intervention.
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