Gestational hypertension is a serious condition. It can affect your unborn baby if it’s not detected and treated. All pregnant women should be aware of this condition because it’s prevalent. It happens in approximately 5 to 10 per cent of pregnancies.
With the risk factors detailed below, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor. This helps establish the best plan for you and your unborn baby.
What Is Gestational Hypertension?
Gestational hypertension (also called pregnancy-induced hypertension) is a condition that develops during pregnancy. It can occur at any stage of pregnancy but most often begins in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. A woman’s blood pressure rises above 140/90 mmHg after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension affects about 5 per cent of all pregnancies. In many cases, it goes away after the baby is delivered. However, it can persist into the postpartum period and require ongoing treatment.
There are two types of gestational hypertension: mild and severe. Mild gestational hypertension occurs when your blood pressure rises above 140/90 mm Hg but returns to normal after delivery. Severe gestational hypertension involves a rise in blood pressure that requires treatment with medications or bed rest to control it.
High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
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High blood pressure is one of the most common medical conditions during pregnancy. This is because hormones and other changes during pregnancy can cause your blood vessels to relax and widen. It allows more blood to flow through them. This can raise your blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure before you get pregnant, it’s important to keep your blood pressure under control. So that it doesn’t interfere with your pregnancy. If you get high blood pressure during pregnancy, it may be temporary and go away after delivery, but it can also become chronic (long-lasting).
Talk with your doctor about what you can do to keep it under control so that it doesn’t interfere with your pregnancy. If you get high blood pressure during pregnancy, talk with your doctor about what steps he or she recommends to treat it.
What Are the Symptoms of Gestational Hypertension?
Gestational hypertension can cause serious problems for you and your baby. Getting it treated as soon as possible is important. Here are some of the symptoms you may experience if you have gestational hypertension:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in your upper back or chest
- Feeling faint or lightheaded at times
- Shortness of breath
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What Are the Causes of Gestational Hypertension?
The exact causes of gestational hypertension are unknown, but many factors may contribute. These include:
The risk of developing gestational hypertension increases with age. The older you are, the more likely you will develop gestational hypertension, especially if you’re over 35. This is because as you age, your cardiovascular system weakens.
Your heart becomes less efficient at pumping blood throughout your body. Delivering oxygen to tissues such as muscles and organs, including your kidneys. Because of this lack of oxygen delivery, more work must be done by organs such as your kidneys.
This results in high blood pressure and increased stress on these organs from pregnancy hormones like estrogen. This causes the widening of blood vessels.
In addition to age contributing to developing symptoms such as nausea or headaches during pregnancy, it also plays a role in whether or not these symptoms turn into full-blown preeclampsia (PE). This can lead to chronic pain later on.
African American women have a higher risk of developing gestational hypertension than white women.
You may be at risk if you gain too much weight during pregnancy. Gestational hypertension has been linked to obesity. This means that being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing this condition.
If you are overweight, it’s important to keep an eye on your weight gain during pregnancy to avoid gaining too much weight. If you have already gained too much weight or are currently gaining more than recommended by your doctor, consider losing some weight before getting pregnant again.
Pre-existing hypertension (high blood pressure)
The most common cause of gestational hypertension is pre-existing hypertension. Pre-existing hypertension is high blood pressure that existed before becoming pregnant. Women with pre-existing hypertension have an increased risk of gestational hypertension during pregnancy.
One of the most common causes of gestational hypertension is kidney disease. The kidneys work to remove waste products from the body, which can lead to high blood pressure if they are not functioning properly.
This may be caused by an injury or disease that affects the kidneys, such as diabetes or lupus. Women who have previously had it are also at greater risk of developing it during future pregnancies.
Women with diabetes have an increased risk of developing gestational hypertension compared to women without diabetes. This is because they often have a higher blood pressure than other women before becoming pregnant due to having poorly controlled blood sugar levels or having had gestational diabetes during an earlier pregnancy.
In addition to this increased risk for developing gestational hypertension, women with diabetes are also at increased risk for having preeclampsia (a serious condition characterised by high blood pressure in combination with protein in urine).
Women who develop pre-eclampsia during their first pregnancy are more likely to experience it again during subsequent pregnancies.
Pregnant with multiples (twins or triplets)
In most cases, gestational hypertension occurs in pregnant women with multiples (twins or triplets). This is because multiples tend to be born earlier than their singleton counterparts and therefore face more risk of complications during birth—including hypertension.
pregnant woman with gestational hypertension
How Is Gestational Hypertension Diagnosed?
The condition affects around 5 to 10 per cent of all pregnancies, with symptoms usually appearing before 30 weeks. Gestational hypertension can cause serious health problems for both mother and child, so it’s important to seek treatment immediately if you think you have it.
It is diagnosed based on some factors, including:
- Your medical history (e.g., previous pregnancies)
- Current symptoms
- Medical exam results
The diagnosis procedure may be followed according to the following steps:
- Gynaecologist appointments
- Blood tests
- Controlling blood pressure
- Urine tests
What Is the Treatment for Gestational Hypertension?
Gestational hypertension can be a serious condition that requires medical treatment.
The treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms but generally includes:
Blood pressure monitoring
Blood pressure monitoring is the main part of your treatment plan and will help to determine how well you’re doing with your medication and diet.
Your doctor may prescribe low-dose aspirin or calcium channel blockers to help control your blood pressure. You may sometimes be given magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures if yours are severe enough to warrant it.
You’ll need to eat fewer salty foods and avoid caffeine altogether. Because it can make your blood pressure rise even more quickly than usual without careful monitoring from a doctor or midwife who knows what’s best for your health and baby’s well-being (as well as yours).
If your doctor recommends this, you’ll be given medication to start labour early so your baby can be delivered before you go into pre-term labour.
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Dizziness While Pregnant: Causes, Management, and Prevention
Does Bed Rest Help Gestational Hypertension?
Generally, you should not spend much time in bed if you have gestational hypertension. This can worsen the condition and lead to more serious complications. However, there are situations where it may be necessary for you to spend time in bed if your doctor recommends it.
If you’ve been diagnosed with it and your doctor recommends that you take bed rest, several things can help make the experience more comfortable.
First, keep your feet up as much as possible while resting—even when sleeping. Second, create a comfortable environment by using pillows to prop up your head and neck so that they’re at an angle (not flat on the bed).
Third, avoid lying flat on your back as much as possible; try not to sleep on this side of your body if possible. Finally, get plenty of exercise by walking around every hour or so (if possible).
If these measures don’t improve your symptoms, then it may be time to discuss other treatment options such as medication or surgery with your doctor.
What’s the Difference Between Preeclampsia and Gestational Hypertension?
Preeclampsia and gestational hypertension are both conditions that develop in pregnant women. But what’s the difference between them?
Preeclampsia is characterised by high blood pressure, swelling in the hands and feet, and protein in the urine. Gestational hypertension does not result in these symptoms but can lead to preeclampsia later in pregnancy. Both conditions can be dangerous for both mother and child. So keep track of your symptoms and see your doctor early on if you think something might be off.
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