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Pregnancy and Chronic Hypertension


<>There is a very great risk that your blood pressure will rise during pregnancy. Your body is put under considerable strain during your pregnancy and there are other factors that will affect your well-being at this time.

Many people are totally unaware that they suffer from high blood pressure and this applies equally to women prior to becoming pregnant. Problems begin to arise when they become pregnant and highlight their hypertension condition.

There is a condition known as Chronic hypertension.

There are approximately between 3% and 5% of women who suffer with hypertension before they decide to become pregnant or develop hypertension before the 20th week of pregnancy, this is called chronic hypertension.

It is possible for women with chronic hypertension to also develop pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), also known as toxemia or preeclampsia resulting in a potentially serious condition.

Unless it is severely high, the predicament with high blood pressure in anyone is it rarely causes any visible or other types of symptoms.

This is problematic for anyone with raised blood pressure, but for a pregnant woman it can cause very serious complications for both the mother and her baby. Fortunately with good antenatal care these problems can usually be prevented, and if not prevented then treated.

From this we can clearly see that it is of paramount importance that a pregnant woman has her blood pressure checked regularly and certainly every time she goes for her antenatal appointment. It is also important that the person checking the blood pressure ensures that the blood pressure is taken in the correct manner and is certain that the expectant mother is in a calm state.

Chronic Hypertension

If a pregnant woman has chronic hypertension, it means her blood pressure was raised either before she became pregnant or before she was 20 weeks. Unfortunately this type of hypertension does not resolve once the baby is born, and the mother usually needs treatment.

It is thought that chronic hypertension in young women is the result of their heredity diet and lifestyle but doctors are unsure of this. The major concern is that if this type of hypertension is not treated then there may be serious repercussions such as a heart attack or stroke.

If a woman knows she has high blood pressure, it is very important she sees her doctor before trying to conceive her child. Conversely, if a woman is unaware she has chronic hypertension she will be ignorant of the risks she's running when she becomes pregnant.

If there are no other complications the risks are not increased for most women with Chronic hypertension. If there are other conditions present like diabetes and the hypertension is severe, or if PIH develops along with chronic hypertension, risks are much greater for mother and baby.

Severe chronic hypertension during pregnancy may induce other complications some of which are listed below:

v blood clots

v kidney failure

v increasing blood pressure

v bleeding within the brain

v early detachment of the placenta from the uterus

v heart failure

Subject to the severity of the disease there may be risks to the fetus and the newborn baby. The risks may include:

v stillbirth

v pre-term birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)

v intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) - decreased fetal growth due to poor placental blood flow.

There's no reason why she cannot become pregnant, it just means she will have to be very carefully monitored by her doctor and midwives to ensure her medication (If she's taking any) is carefully evaluated. Its very important she does this as there are some types of medication for high blood pressure which can cross the placenta and harm the baby. It may even be possible for her to stop taking her medication whilst at least in the first trimester as the blood pressure tends to fall in this period anyway.



There is no reason why a woman with Chronic Hypertension cannot become pregnant, it merely means she must be carefully monitored by her doctor and midwives ensuring that her medication, if any had been prescribed, is carefully quantified.

There are some types of medication for high blood pressure that can cross the placenta and harm the baby. This reinforces the need to have the medication very carefully monitored. It may even be possible for her to stop taking her medication whilst at least

In the first trimester of pregnancy it is quite normal for a reduction in blood pressure so it may even be possible for her to stop taking her medication during this period.

When carefully monitored, most women with chronic hypertension go on to have a trouble free pregnancy, However about 25% of them develop a very dangerous gestational hypertension called preeclampsia.

Preecalpsia is an extremely serious condition with the possibility of being fatal to both the mother and her baby. Symptoms of preeclampsia are

v Intense stomach pains

v Blurred vision

v Weight gain of several pounds in a very short period of time

v Dizziness

v Severe headaches

v Swelling of the hands and face

'Preeclampsia' can cause very serious problems even death if left untreated...read about preeclampsia pregnancy induced hypertension

Research material about Pregnancy and Chronic Hypertension provided by K. Standerline, State Registered Nurse. UK

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