Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), also referred to as gestational high blood pressure is a condition characterized by hypertension during pregnancy. The condition affects about seven percent of expectant women. PIH is not necessarily dangerous as long as it is closely monitored. You’ll need the services of a board certified family physician in Westminster to provide proper care for you and for your baby.
Types of PIH
There several types of PIH that exist. They include gestational hypertension, chronic hypertension, chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia, and preeclampsia. Women with gestational hypertension experience high blood pressure that develops 20 weeks after pregnancy. There are no signs of organ damage or excess protein, and in some women, the condition eventually becomes preeclampsia. Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that develops before 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is difficult to determine because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms.
Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia occurs in women who suffered from chronic hypertension before pregnancy and developed worsening symptoms such as proteins in the urine or other blood pressure-related complications during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is associated with signs of organ damage, especially to the kidneys, brain, blood or liver. It develops after twenty weeks of pregnancy and can lead to fatal complications for both the mother and child, including seizure development.
Risks of PIH
High blood pressure during pregnancy causes numerous risks including decreased blood flow to the placenta, causing the baby to receive less oxygen and fewer nutrients. It can also lead to slow growth, premature birth or low birth weight. This may cause increased risks of infection for the baby, breathing problems, and other complications.
Preeclampsia increases the risk of the placenta separating from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. This condition may cause heavy bleeding, which is dangerous for the baby. PIH may result in slowed growth of the baby, a condition referred to as intrauterine growth restriction. It can result in injury to your vital organs and might increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in the future.
Women at risk of developing PIH include first-time mothers, or those whose sisters or mothers have had the condition, women younger than the age of 18 or older than the age of about 40, and women who have had kidney disease or high blood pressure prior to pregnancy.
Other Signs and Symptoms
Besides high blood pressure, other signs and symptoms of PIH include additional signs of kidney problems and excess protein in your urine, changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs, decreased levels of blood platelets, and upper abdominal pain, among others.
Edema or sudden swelling or weight gain, particularly in your face or hands often accompanies preeclampsia, although they may not be reliable factors since they also occur in normal pregnancies.
If you have high blood pressure, schedule a preconception appointment with the doctor who will handle your pregnancy. He or she will evaluate how well you’re managing your high blood pressure and will suggest necessary treatment changes that you might need to make before the pregnancy. You can also meet other members of your health care team such as your cardiologist and family physician for suggestions. If you’re obese or overweight, your healthcare physician might also recommend exercise regimen and dieting so that you lose the excess weight before conceiving.