Every time a pregnant woman visits a gynecologist, the doctor measures her blood pressure. This happens once every two – three weeks. But it is better to measure the pressure of a pregnant woman daily. What is it for? It is necessary for monitoring the state of health and, if necessary, apply the necessary measures. It’s clear that pressure drops during pregnancy are harmful for both mother and her child. So, what’s the danger of hypertension in pregnancy?
Regular measurement of blood pressure during pregnancy becomes a mandatory procedure for a woman. So, with every visit to the women’s consultation blood pressure measurements will be a must. It is a necessary procedure for detecting any deviations in pressure in time. Thereby saving the future mother and the baby from serious complications caused by hypertension in pregnancy.
It’s clear that pressure indicators are usually characterized by two digits. For example, 120/80, where 120 is the systolic pressure, and 80 is the diastolic pressure. So when the first indicator reaches 140 or exceeds this figure, doctors speak of hypertension in pregnancy. The pressure may increase during the gestation period, and can already be increased before pregnancy. In this case, the doctors talk about chronic hypertension, which requires increased attention and caution during pregnancy.
Hypertension in pregnancy is not a good sign, both for the mother and for the fetus. The fact is that with increased arterial pressure, the walls of the vessels are narrowed. This interferes with the normal supply of oxygen and nutrients to the baby. As a result, the growth of the fetus may slow down. High blood pressure during pregnancy is also dangerous because it can provoke premature detachment of the placenta. This is accompanied by severe bleeding, which is dangerous for the pregnant woman and the baby.
Symptoms of Hypertension
With an increase in blood pressure there may appear:
- headache (its strength will be directly proportional to the level of blood pressure);
- noise in the ears;
- a feeling of pressure on the eyes;
- general weakness;
- nausea and vomiting;
- redness of the face and chest area or appearance of red spots on the face;
- “flashes” in the eyes.
In some cases, even with high blood pressure figures, the woman may not feel any pathological symptoms and keep on normal daily activities. High blood pressure is detected by accident, usually during another visit to the women’s consultation. The absence of clinical manifestations of high blood pressure does not exclude the development of serious complications that can threaten the life of the mother and the unborn child. Therefore it is very important to regularly monitor the pressure during pregnancy.
How to Measure Blood Pressure?
Currently, there are automatic electronic blood pressure monitors on the market. They allow one to carry out a pressure measurement by pressing just one button. Their use does not require special skills. From the beginning of pregnancy it is desirable to get a blood pressure monitor and measure blood pressure at least 2 times a day. But it is necessary to take into account the fact that electronic blood pressure monitors may not be accurate enough. That’s why, it is recommended to carry out the measurement three times and calculate the average value between the obtained indices.
The parameters of blood pressure during pregnancy depend on many factors: the total volume of circulating blood, the vascular tone, the work of the heart (for example, the heart rate), the quality characteristics of the blood, as well as the level and activity of a number of hormones and biologically active substances produced by the kidneys, adrenals, the thyroid gland, etc. In addition, a number of external conditions exert a large influence on blood pressure: the level of physical activity, psychoemotional state, etc.
The changes in the organism of a future mother occur in the amount of circulating blood, the work of the heart, in the hormonal background, etc. That’s why even with a normal course of pregnancy, the blood pressure changes depending on its term.
The Norm of Blood Pressure Indices
The average blood pressure, which can be considered optimal (that is necessary for life support of the body with a minimal risk of cardiovascular complications), is the level of systolic blood pressure 110-120 mm Hg, and diastolic – 70-80 mm Hg. Boundary values are 130/85 -139/89 mm Hg. If the value of blood pressure is 140/90 and above, then this condition is regarded as hypertension (pathologically high blood pressure).
It should be noted that among young women, there are often those for whom the usual pre-pregnancy pressure is 90/60, 100/70 mm Hg. In these cases, it is more correct to focus not on the absolute values of blood pressure, but on the increase in indicators. If the values of systolic pressure during pregnancy are increased by 30 mm Hg, and diastolic – at 15 mm Hg, then the future mother has high blood pressure.
Hypertension in Pregnancy: Possible Complications
Hypertension in pregnancy is an alarming symptom, as it can lead to serious complications:
- If the pressure in the blood vessels of the pregnant woman increases, this leads to similar changes in the circulatory system “mother-placenta-fetus”. As a result, the vessels of the uterus and the placenta narrow. Consequently, the intensity of the blood flow decreases. As a result, the baby gets less oxygen and nutrients. These disorders cause fetoplacental insufficiency (complications when the normal functioning of the placenta is disrupted and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus is reduced) and intrauterine growth retardation (at a full term of pregnancy the child is born with a low body weight). Also, the consequence of placental insufficiency is the threat of termination of pregnancy.
- A persistent prolonged hypertension in pregnancy can cause severe disruption in the functioning of the vital organs of a pregnant woman. This can lead to acute kidney or heart failure, which is a threat for the mother and the fetus.
- Hypertension in pregnancy can lead to premature detachment of the placenta due to increased pressure in the space between the uterus wall and the placenta. Normally the placenta is separated after the fetus is born. Premature detachment of the placenta leads to bleeding (in severe cases – there is sufficient blood loss). Since partially detached placenta cannot perform its function to ensure the vital functions of the fetus, acute hypoxia (oxygen starvation) develops. It poses a real threat to the health and life of the unborn child.
- A significant increase in blood pressure can lead to the development of preeclampsia and eclampsia. These conditions are consequences of gestosis. This is the complication of pregnancy, manifested by increased blood pressure, the presence of protein in the urine and edema. Preeclampsia is a condition accompanied by high blood pressure (200/120 mm Hg and above), headache, flashes in the eyes, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the epigastric region above the navel. Eclampsia is an attack of muscle cramps all over the body, accompanied by loss of consciousness and cessation of breathing.
- One of the terrible complications of hypertension in pregnancy is cerebral hemorrhage. The risk of this complication is significantly increased during labor. Therefore, in order to avoid such severe consequences, with high figures of blood pressure, delivery is performed by cesarean section.
- High blood pressure can cause complications such as retinal detachment or bleeding in the retina. It can lead to partial or complete loss of vision.
How to Lower the Pressure during Pregnancy?
If the future mother has hypertensive disease or chronic diseases, accompanied by an increase in blood pressure, this pregnancy is administered by an obstetrician-gynecologist and a therapist or cardiologist.
Methods of treatment that contribute to lowering blood pressure, can be divided into non-drug and pharmaceutical treatment.
Non-pharmacological methods include the normalization of sleep, the exclusion of stressful situations and heavy physical exertion. A woman should walk outdoors at a calm pace, give up bad habits (preferably – at the stage of pregnancy planning), as well as should follow a diet with a reasonable intake of salt (no more than 5 grams per day, which corresponds to 1 teaspoonful), and rich in potassium (it is contained in bananas, dried apricots, raisins, sea cabbage, baked potatoes).
When choosing drugs for normalizing blood pressure, it is necessary to observe two conditions: constant monitoring of blood pressure twice a day and the absence of adverse effects of the drug on the fetus even with prolonged use.
With a periodic slight increase in pressure, treatment begins with the appointment of sedatives on the basis of phyto-drugs. In most cases, these drugs are effective in combination with non-drug therapy.
Prevention of Hypertension in Pregnancy
To avoid increase of blood pressure during pregnancy, you must follow a few simple rules:
- It is necessary to ensure a normal duration of sleep – at night not less than 8-9 hours. Also it is desirable to have an afternoon rest for 1-2 hours.
- It is necessary to avoid emotional and physical overload. If possible, temporarily reduce the load at work.
- Moderate physical activity (walking on fresh air, visiting swimming pool, gymnastics for pregnant women, etc.) contributes to the improvement of blood supply to the brain and internal organs. It has a beneficial effect on the emotional and physical state of the future mother.
- A reasonable approach to the organization of nutrition during pregnancy is also necessary. In order to prevent hypertension in pregnancy, it is necessary to exclude strong tea, coffee, and alcohol in any quantity. It is necessary to refuse sharp, spicy, fried food, canned food and smoked products.
- It is necessary to control the weight gain. For the whole pregnancy it should not be more than 10-12 kg. With the initial deficit of weight – more than 15 kg.
- An important point is to control the blood pressure level on both hands at least 2 times a day (in the morning and in the evening). The pressure should be measured on both hands, because the registration of different values of blood pressure indicates a violation of the regulation of vascular tone and is one of the early signs of the development of gestosis.