Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
High Blood Pressure
What is blood
Blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries
in your body. It is the force with which the blood moves through the blood
vessels. Doctors and nurses measure blood pressure by putting a cuff around your
upper arm. Then they listen to your blood flow with a stethoscope. High blood
pressure is also called "hypertension."
What causes high blood pressure
There are three types of high blood pressure in
- Chronic hypertension: A woman can have high blood
pressure before she gets pregnant. Sometimes a woman has high blood pressure for
a long time before she gets pregnant, but she doesn't know it until her first
- Preeclampsia: This condition can cause serious
problems for both the mother and the baby. It only happens in the second half of
pregnancy. It causes high blood pressure, protein in the urine, blood changes
and other problems.
- Transient hypertension: Some women just get high
blood pressure near the end of pregnancy. They don't have any other signs of
is high blood pressure during pregnancy a
High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause
problems for you and your baby:
- Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure can
make your baby grow too slowly. This can hurt your baby's health. Women with
chronic hypertension are also more likely to get preeclampsia, which can be very
- Preeclampsia: High blood pressure is not the main
problem, but it is one of the main signs of this health condition. Preeclampsia
can cause problems with your brain (headache and seizures), your eyes (blurred
vision), your liver (pain in your belly), and your blood and other organs. It
can make your baby grow slowly. If you get preeclampsia and seizures, you and
your baby are at risk of dying.
- Transient hypertension: This condition does not
cause any problems for you or your baby.
How is high blood
pressure treated in pregnant women?
The treatment will depend on the reason for the
high blood pressure:
- Chronic hypertension: If you are already taking
medicine for high blood pressure, your doctor may want you to keep taking that
medicine. If that medicine is not safe for the baby, your doctor might want you
to change to another medicine or to stop taking medicine while you are pregnant.
Your doctor will pay special attention to how your baby is growing. You might
have ultrasound exams more often. You might have some other tests near the end
of your pregnancy to make sure that your baby is healthy. Your doctor will watch
closely for signs of preeclampsia.
- Preeclampsia: How your doctor treats this
condition depends on how close you are to your due date and how you and your
baby are doing. The only treatment that stops preeclampsia is to deliver the
baby. If your baby is born very early, it may have serious health problems. But
your doctor may want your baby to be delivered early if you or the baby are very
sick. If your doctor thinks it is safe for the pregnancy to go on, he or she
will watch you and your baby very closely until delivery. You will see your
doctor often and get blood tests. Your baby will also get some tests to make
sure he or she is healthy. You might need to stay home from work and rest in
- Transient hypertension: This condition doesn't
need any treatment. But it can be hard to tell this condition from early or mild
preeclampsia, so your doctor will watch you very closely to make sure your high
blood pressure elevation is not actually preeclampsia.
What happens to high blood pressure
- Chronic hypertension: Your blood pressure will
probably stay high after you have your baby. You will have to keep taking
medicine for high blood pressure, watch your diet and exercise.
- Preeclampsia: Your blood pressure will go back to
normal within 6 to 12 weeks after you have your baby.
- Transient hypertension: Your blood pressure will
go back to normal within 6 to 12 weeks after you have your baby. But you are
more likely to get chronic high blood pressure later in life.