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High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy – types, causes and treatment

Blood pressure is the pressure in the blood vessels in the body. It is the force with which blood moves through the blood vessels. Doctors and nurses measure blood pressure, putting a band around the arm. They listen to blood flow with a stethoscope. High blood pressure (also called hypertension) occurs when blood moves through the blood vessels at a pressure higher than normal.

Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure diagnosed before pregnancy or before 20 weeks of pregnancy. This type of hypertension does not go away after delivery. Medical experts do not fully understand the causes of hypertension. Genes, diet and lifestyle can play a role.

There are three types of hypertension in pregnant women:

Chronic Hypertension: High blood pressure that develops before 20 weeks of pregnancy or occurring before the woman becomes pregnant. Sometimes a woman has high blood pressure for a long time before getting pregnant, but she does not know it until their first prenatal checkup.
Gestational hypertension: Some women just get high blood pressure near the end of pregnancy. They have no other associated symptoms.
Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH): It is also called toxemia or preeclampsia. This condition can cause serious problems for both mother and baby if left untreated. PIH develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In addition to high blood pressure, it causes the protein in the urine, blood changes and other problems.

Treatment depends on the type of high blood pressure:
Chronic hypertension: If you are already taking medication for high blood pressure, the doctor may ask you to continue taking this medicine. If this drug is not safe for the baby, the doctor may want you to change medication or stop taking medication during pregnancy. The doctor will pay particular attention to how the baby is growing. You can have ultrasound exams more often. There may be other tests near the end of the pregnancy to make sure the baby is healthy. The doctor will monitor you closely for signs of preeclampsia.
Gestational hypertension: This condition does not need any treatment. But it can be difficult to distinguish this condition from early or mild preeclampsia, so the doctor will watch closely to make sure the blood pressure does not become PIH.
PIH: How the doctor treats this condition depends on how close the deadline and how you and the baby are doing. The only treatment for PIH is that the baby is born. If the baby is born very early, it can have serious health problems. However, the doctor may want the baby to be born prematurely if you or the baby is very sick. If the doctor thinks it is safe to continue the pregnancy to term, he or she will follow you and the baby very closely until delivery. You should see the doctor often and get blood tests. The baby will be tested to ensure that he or she is healthy. You may have to stay home from work and rest in bed.

When blood pressure rises slightly and she is not near the end of her pregnancy, bed rest may help reduce the pressure. Bed rest at home or in hospital may be prescribed. If blood pressure does not increase to dangerous levels, pregnancy can be allowed to continue until labor begins naturally.

High blood pressure during pregnancy can place the woman and baby at risk for severe problems. The women needs special care and may have to see the doctor more often. Working with the doctor to control the blood pressure level will help improve the chances of having a healthy baby.

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