What is Hypertension in Pregnancy?

By William Wallace

Pregnancy induced hypertension is the most common problem to occur during your pregnancy. In fact two to three percent pregnant women have pregnancy induced hypertension.

During her fourth pregnancy, Katie Hansen from El Monte, California experienced pregnancy induced hypertension. She learnt about this condition when she did her third prenatal checkup.

On this occasion she learnt that among the factors that increase the likelyhood of pregnancy induced hypertension are: first pregnancy, a family medical history of preeclampsia affecting the firts-degree relatives, and a period of less than 2 years or more than 10 years.

Additional factors that raise the risk of pregnancy induced hypertension are chronic hypertension, diabetes with microvascular disease, renal disease, thrombophilia and obesity.

In case of pregnancy induced hypertension, there may not be any symptoms. Nevertheless, visual disturbances identical to scintillations (flickers of light) might be present and also scotomata (blind spots) - perhaps because of the cerebral arteries spasms. In addition, women can have upper abdominal pain that can appear without notice and that are constant and rather severe. The sufferer can experience headaches on the front, puslating and being analogous to migrane problems.

The problem with pregnancy induced hypertension is that it may trigger thromboembolism (blood clots), strokes, seizures, aggravation of the liver which can lead to liver failure, kidney failure, protein in the urine, placental abruption where the placenta detaches of the the uterus and also the death of the mother. According to statistics, between 1991 and 1999 over 15% of the deaths of women during their pregnancy had as their cause pregnancy induced hypertension.

There are three kinds of pregnancy induced hypertension: Chronic Hypertension, Preeclampsia additionally as Transient hypertension.

Chronic Hypertension

Most frequently chronic hypertension has no other cause. But, it can be caused by kidney disease like polycystic kidneys, glomerular or interstitial disease, coarctation of the aorta, hormone problems such as adrenocorticosteroid or mineralocorticoid excess, pheochromocytoma, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, too much parathyroid hormone or even using oral contraceptives.


The cause of preeclampsia is not known. What is known is that this condition is caused by a problem of the inner lining of the blood vessels. This leads to spasms of the blood vessels. Consequently, when the arteries reduce themselves, the blood pressure gets higher. This deterioration also leads to the blood vessels to leak and to swell. This condition can cause difficulties for the brain, lungs and also to kidneys. Another effect that these changes can cause is a lower blood flow for the developing baby.

Transient hypertension

The elevated blood pressure called transient hypertension just happens late in pregnancy. Then after delivery, the blood pressure goes back to normal. But, it probably increases your chances of getting high blood pressure later in life.

Pregnancy induced hypertension is one of the major reasons that you should keep your regular appointments with your family doctor. - 31820

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