High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy: Know Your Risks
Jan 3, 2014
you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, keeping on top of
your blood pressure can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
High blood pressure is usually the first sign of a pregnancy-related
syndrome called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, which is also characterized
by the presence of protein in the urine, puts both mom and baby at risk
for serious health complications, such as life-threatening seizures.
“Preeclampsia is a common complication of pregnancy,” says
Antonio Sison, MD, FACOG, Medical Director, Comprehensive OB/GYN Care of
Princeton, board certified OB/ GYN. “High blood pressure is definitely
something all pregnant women should discuss with their healthcare
Women who are at higher risk for preeclampsia need to be especially
vigilant about monitoring their blood pressure, Dr. Sison says. This
includes women who are pregnant for the first time; women who had high
blood pressure or kidney disease before pregnancy; women who smoke; and
women who are carrying multiple babies.
What is Preeclampsia?
Blood pressure measures how hard blood pushes
against the walls of your arteries. A blood pressure above 140
(systolic, while the heart is pumping) over 90 (diastolic, while the
heart is at rest) is considered high for a pregnant woman. Preeclampsia
is diagnosed if protein is also detected during a urine test.
Preeclampsia affects 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies, according to
the Preeclampsia Foundation. However, some estimates show as many as 1
in 5 women may experience high blood pressure during pregnancy, Dr.
Preeclampsia can be accompanied by symptoms such as swelling, sudden
weight gain, headaches and blurred vision—but often there are no obvious
symptoms. It is most often diagnosed during the third trimester of
Without treatment, the condition can slow the growth of a baby, and
it puts the mother at risk for serious health problems, including
seizures known as eclampsia.
The cause of preeclampsia is not known, and the only treatment is
delivery of the baby. Supportive therapy often involves blood pressure
medication and close monitoring of the health of the mom and baby.
“The golden rule is to stabilize blood pressure, normally with blood
pressure medication, monitor protein in the urine and make a decision at
some point about whether to induce labor,” Dr. Sison says. “Our goal is
to extend the pregnancy as long as safely possible so the baby has more
time to mature.”
Some women may also benefit from bed rest or inpatient monitoring in the hospital, Dr. Sison says.
To find an OB/GYN affiliated with Princeton HealthCare System, please
call 1.800.FINDADR (1.800.346.3237) or visit www.princetonhcs.org.