High blood pressure (hypertension) is a term used to refer to the pressure with which the blood flows in the artery, and in this case, this pressure in the artery is high. Blood pressure is generally recorded by using two figures. Commonly, blood pressure is measured in units of Mercury in millimetres (mm Hg). The first (or top) digit set of your bp indicates the systolic blood pressure. This stands for the pressure in the arteries of the heart when the heart contracts. The second (or bottom) digit set of your BP stands for the diastolic blood pressure. This stands for the pressure in the arteries of the heart when the heart rests in between each separate heartbeat.
The normal blood pressure for a woman is supposed to be below 140/90 mm Hg. During pregnancy, it may rise or sink. Pregnant women need to have regular and frequent blood pressure checks.
- Blood Pressure between 140/90 and 149/99 mm Hg is Mildly high blood pressure.
- Blood Pressure between 150/100 and 159/109 mm Hg is Moderately high blood pressure.
- Blood Pressure of 160/110 mm Hg or higher is Severely high blood pressure and needs the doctor’s attention immediately.
Types of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy:
1. High Blood Pressure that was Pre-Existing:
Some women suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension naturally, even before they get pregnant. They generally take medication for this. Most women have been found to suffer from high blood pressure mostly even before they are even 20 weeks pregnant. High blood pressure that is detected before 20 weeks of pregnancy is generally not a result of pregnancy but is said to be pre-existing. In other words, it is chronic high blood pressure. More than 1 in 20 women have been known to suffer from pre-existing high blood pressure which gets worse when they get pregnant. Those who have pre-existing high blood pressure have been known to have an increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia when they are pregnant.
2. High Blood Pressure that is Caused by Gestation:
This is a rare case seen in some women when they develop high blood pressure during the term of their pregnancy. This is scientifically called “pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (or hypertension) or gestational high blood pressure (or hypertension)”. Gestational high blood pressure is the high blood pressure that is caused or occurs for the first time after the first trimester or after the 20th week of the completion of pregnancy. The attending doctor will confirm after tests if you suffer from this type of high blood pressure. If you do not develop preeclampsia during the second trimester of your pregnancy and if the blood pressure returns to normal within six weeks of conceiving or giving birth.
3. Pre-Eclampsia and Eclampsia:
Pre-eclampsia refers to a condition that often affects some pregnant women when they develop high blood pressure suddenly after the completion of the 20th week of their pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia has also been known to develop in women who suffer from high blood pressure even before they get pregnant which is known as pre-existing high blood pressure and also in women who have tested positive for pre-existing protein traces in their urine, generally a sign of pre-existing kidney problems.
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Some women will not have any problems with blood pressure during pregnancy. But, in most women, the blood pressure is affected and high blood pressure (hypertension) has been known to develop. It ranges from mild to serious. When severe, high blood pressure is harmful to both the mother and the embryo.