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Hypertension and pre eclampsia

hyper tension and pre eclampsia
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Hypertension and Pre Eclampsia in Pregnancy

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a blood pressure which is 140/90 mm HG or above each time that it is taken and sustained at that level. It isn’t as straight forward as just the machine reading as each person is different and your GP will be able to advise if you do have high blood pressure. Your GP will want to monitor your blood pressure over a period of time if it is raised and may ask you to also monitor at home too. Some people suffer from ‘White Coat Syndrome’ which means their blood pressure is raised when in a clinical environment such as their GP surgery due to anxiety, in other settings they will feel more relaxed therefore the blood pressure reading will be naturally lower. If your GP feels your blood pressure is consistently high then you may be prescribed medication to lower it.Hypertension and pre-eclampsia are two problems that may occur during your pregnancy and must be taken seriously.

What is high blood pressure?        

  • The pressure of the blood in your artery blood vessels is too high.
  • The top number is your systolic blood pressure; this is the pressure of your arteries when your heart contracts.
  • The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure; this is the pressure of your arteries when your heart is resting between heartbeats

What are the symptoms?

High blood pressure usually has no obvious symptoms.In rare cases when blood pressure is extremely high they can have the following symptoms; headache, nosebleeds, shortness of breath or double vision

During pregnancy

Hypertension is the most common medical problem during pregnancy and for this reason you should have regular blood pressure checks. Most pregnancies will not be affected by high blood pressure but in some cases it can become severe and be harmful to mother and baby.

Pre excisting high blood pressure

Some women have already been diagnosed with hypertension before getting pregnant and may be on medication prescribed by their doctor for this. Some women find that they have hypertension during their pregnancy before they are 20 weeks pregnant, this is usually because it has been previously undetected and is not caused by the pregnancy. Before becoming pregnant you are not such a regular visitor to your GP and with hypertension having no obvious symptoms it’s not surprising you wouldn’t have known.

If you are already taking medication for your hypertension then you may have already reviewed this with your doctor before becoming pregnant, there are some hypertension medications that should not be taken during pregnancy and it is always best to check with your GP.

Unfortunately if you do have pre-existing high blood pressure you are at increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia during your pregnancy.

hypertension and pre eclampsia

Gestational high blood pressure

Gestational high blood pressure is developed during pregnancy, otherwise known as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure or hypertension. Some women develop high blood pressure after their 20th week of their pregnancy, this will be monitored throughout the pregnancy. Generally, if your blood pressure has returned to within normal range within six weeks of having your baby then it is likely you had gestational high blood pressure.

If you have gestational hypertension you are at higher risk of developing pre eclampsia.

Pre eclampsia

Pre eclampsia can affect women that suffer from gestational hypertension and also women that suffer from pre-existing hypertension. Women with kidney problems or women with protein in their urine can also be affected.

It is a pregnancy complication and is thought to be linked to a problem with the development of the blood vessels of the placenta and placenta damage.

Pre-eclampsia causes protein to leak from your kidneys into your urine, when you have routine urine samples tested protein may be found. If you do have pre-eclampsia then protein will be found in your urine and your blood pressure will be high.

Pre eclampsia symptoms

-Severe headaches

-Abdominal pain

-Swelling of puffiness of your feet, hands and face

-Blurry vision, flashing lights or spots in front of your eyes

-Not being able to feel your baby moving as much

-Vomiting (3rd trimester)

If your doctor or midwife suspect that you do have pre eclampsia then you will be referred to an obstetrician urgently, you may be immediately admitted into hospital for observation. Tests will be completed including blood tests to check your kidneys and liver. Your baby’s heart rate will be checked, your blood pressure will be monitored and your urine will be tested frequently.

The only way that pre eclampsia can be cured is for your baby to be delivered, after the birth your blood pressure should go down and other symptoms bought on by pre-eclampsia should go.

If you suffer with pre eclampsia late in your pregnancy then your labour will be induced or you may be offered a caesarean section. There is only a small risk to your baby being delivered a few weeks early.

If pre eclampsia occurs earlier in your pregnancy then it may mean more of a difficult decision to make, but the medical team will base the decision on the severity of the condition. Usually if you are suffering from severe pre clampsia then delivering your baby as soon as possible is the best option. If the pre eclampsia is less severe then postponing delivery and being monitored closely may be best for mother and baby.

Will I suffer from pre eclampsia in a future pregnancy?

If you have had pre eclampsia in your first pregnancy then you have around a one in six chance of developing it again in a future pregnancy.

If you have had pre eclampsia during a pregnancy then it is important that you have your blood pressure checked at home by your midwife and then again at your 6 week and 8 week postnatal appointments to ensure that it has returned to normal.

 

 

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