What Causes High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Some females may experience gestational hypertension or high blood pressure during their pregnancy. It is also termed pregnancy-induced hypertension. The female and her developing fetus might develop risk due to an increase in blood pressure. The condition can have serious consequences and both the mother as well as the child are risk prone. The delivery might have complications too.  

Fortunately, the condition can be managed very well, and the risk can also be reduced to a great extent by getting treatment early on. Even if the female is diagnosed with hypertension before getting pregnant, it is necessary to seek treatment, which will prevent the risk of high blood pressure complications.

Some females may even develop high blood pressure after delivering the baby. This might potentiate the risk of stroke and heart disease. But the complications are preventable with the right treatment at the right time. In this blog, we shall see the factors that can be attributed to giving rise to gestational hypertension.   

Factors leading to gestational hypertension

  • Age

When a lady who is pregnant is below 20 years of age or above 40 years of age, then her chances of developing gestational hypertension are quite high. Pregnancy in females during their adolescence can be dangerous for both the female as well as the child, as during that window, the female body is not fully capable of giving birth to a healthy child. Pregnancy can cause drastic changes to their body and their blood pressure may rise.

Some females conceive in their 40s and they may develop high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnancy-induced hypertension occurs in 1 out of every 12 to 17 females between the ages of 20 and 44. Therefore, the likelihood of gestational hypertension is usually high among females under 20 and those above 40. 

  • Pre-existing hypertension

Females who are expecting might be diagnosed with pre-existing diabetes, which happened a long time before pregnancy. This chronic hypertension can enhance the risk of heart attack among such females. The condition may become more serious after becoming pregnant. It can increase the risk of heart damage or kidney disorder. On the safer side, the doctor may recommend delivery via the surgical method (C-section).

  • Diabetes

Some females may have pre-existing diabetes or others may develop gestational diabetes, which potentiates their risk of hypertension during pregnancy. This can be life-threatening for the mother as well as the baby. The female needs to be extremely careful while being diagnosed with both these health conditions, as this can lead to complications while childbirth. These conditions may even increase the possibility of delivery via C-section.   

  • Multiple fetuses

When the female is expecting twins or triplets, then the possibility of gestational hypertension is too high. It can be severe in this case. It potentiates the risk of pre-eclampsia, also known as toxemia, which is a serious condition that can cause damage to the placenta, liver, brain, and kidneys. Any harm to the placenta will have life-threatening consequences for the fetuses.  

  • Kidney disease

Gestational hypertension can be a major cause of kidney disease. It increases the risk of pre-eclampsia, which can hinder fetal growth and development. The organs of the fetus may not even develop properly because of this.

  • Family history

If the condition of gestational hypertension runs in the family, then the female is likely to go through the same. Females having this pattern in their family must be careful during their pregnancy and it is better to inform the doctor in advance because the condition can happen during the later stages of the pregnancy. 

  • Had gestational hypertension during previous pregnancies

In case the female has had gestational hypertension during her past pregnancies, then it is quite obvious that she may have it the next time she gets pregnant. The condition requires utter care and strict medical attention. 

The delivery and the health of the child will depend on the severity of the hypertension. The more severe the condition, the more complicated will be the delivery, which occurs due to the complications and risks.

Symptoms of gestational hypertension   

Hypertension is a “silent killer”, which slowly causes damage to the vascular system, heart, and kidneys. During pregnancy, the condition can threaten the life of the mother as well as the developing fetus. It can lead to the stunted growth of the fetus. Some signs that can be strong indicators of pregnancy-induced hypertension are listed below:

  • Severe headaches
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swelling or edema
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vision changes
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Passing less urine than usual

How does gestational hypertension affect the fetus?

The condition can potentiate the risk of placental damage. The placenta is responsible for supplying the fetus with nutrients, which causes its growth and development during the period of gestation. Damage caused to the placenta can inhibit the supply of essential nutrients to the fetus, which affects the growth of its vital organs.  

The fetus may weigh too low after its birth. Or the probability of premature birth is highly likely, which is full of risks and complications. In the third scenario, if it is a time of delivery in a female diagnosed with gestational hypertension, then the healthcare provider can use labor-inducing methods to cause a vaginal birth.     

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