Hypertension Risk Factors

Gestational Hypertension is Common!

In most women during pregnancy, a slight increase of blood pressure levels is seen. Both, systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels become slightly raised especially in and after the 28th week of pregnancy and this is quite a normal phenomenon. However, it is when especially the diastolic pressure level rises up above 90 mm Hg after the 20th week of pregnancy that it becomes the cause of concern.

The concern is because the affected woman has then displayed the first signs of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (preeclampsia) also known as gestational hypertension. Such hypertension is known as gestational because it is caused only during pregnancy and goes away after childbirth.

However, gestational hypertension should never be ignored in the hope that it will reverse itself after pregnancy is over. The reason is that if a woman goes into seizure because of severe preeclampsia, she can die. Gestational hypertension is always dangerous because it could lead to a seizure, kidney damage or many other complications such as hemorrhage and stroke.

Statistics reveal that many women have died in the US and elsewhere during maternity because of the complications arising out of gestational hypertension. Not only that gestational hypertension can cause premature delivery and even cause still birth. The birth weight of the child can get adversely affected if the mother has gestational hypertension.

Only about 8% pregnant women in the US suffer from preeclampsia. However, gestational hypertension when it occurs can be easily identified by some characteristic signs and symptoms such as:

* Edema
* Rapid weight gain
* Headache
* Vision issues
* Abdominal pain

Apart from these symptoms, tests are available to diagnose the condition. Diastolic high blood pressure check above 90 mm Hg is indicative of slight gestational hypertension. When the diastolic reading is more than 110 mm Hg, it is indicative of severe gestational hypertension in a pregnant woman.

Another test that can reveal preeclampsia in a pregnant woman is through a blood urine protein level check. Gestational hypertension can adversely affect the blood filtration mechanism of the kidneys. This makes for higher levels of urine proteins (proteinuria) in blood than is normal.

Gestational hypertension is always dangerous. Therefore, it becomes important to treat gestational hypertension with exercise to control weight and to closely monitor the condition of the patient. Since anti-hypertensives can adversely affect the health of the fetus, they are not administered to pregnant women who have gestational hypertension. In certain cases, corticosteroids administration under qualified medical supervision may be recommended.