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Blood Pressure Concerns During Pregnancy

Although most women don't develop any blood conditions or problems due to blood pressure, you should consider having regular checks throughout your term. Blood pressure during pregnancy is usually normal, but in some cases high blood pressure can develop; this may be mild and often isn't a serious issue, but it can become severe and harm both you and your child.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, will cause your heart to to work harder to push blood through your body and can impact how your heart muscle works. Blood pressure is recorded in 'millimetres of mecury' in your blood, in higher systolic pressure and lower diastolic pressure. For example, in blood pressure that reads 120/70 mm HG (120 over 7), 120 refers to the systolic pressure, 70 the diastolic and mm HG is the unit for millimetres of mecury.

According to NHS research, high blood pressure during pregnancy occurs in 10 - 15% of women, but the effects as usually mild. Regular checks can help ensure your blood pressure is at a safe level, but other conditions can cause high blood pressure to be an issue.

Types of Hypertension

There are two types of hypertension, or high blood pressure, recorded during pregnancy. Chronic hypertension is a condition of high blood pressure that was present before the pregnancy, whereas pregnancy related hypertension only occurs during pregnancy.

Usually, your doctor will keep a close eye on your blood pressure if you have chronic hypertension. Most women will already be taking medication to control chronic hypertension, and your doctor will make any recommendations needed during your pregnancy in terms of your medication.

Levels of Hypertension

High blood pressure in pregnancy is measured on three different levels:

  • Mild hypertension - from a reading for around 140/90 to 149/99 mm HG. You may be checked regularly if you are in this group, but treatment is not needed.
  • Moderate hypertension - usually 150/100 to 159/109 mm HG; a doctor will suggest certain lifestyle changes or recommend any measures for this type of hypertension.
  • Severe hypertension - over 160/110. Your doctor will offer advice and treatment for severe hypertension, but this is rare in pregnancy, unless you have chronic hypertension.

Treatment

Blood pressure in pregnancy can be controlled by regular checks and certain lifestyle changes, which your doctor will recommend as these changes differ for each individual. Often, medication for high blood pressure is not recommended to be used during pregnancy, but your doctor should be able to provide alternatives if you suffer from chronic hypertension. In the first instance, always speak to your doctor and have you blood pressure checked to prevent complications.

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