Chronic hypertension is a medical condition when your blood pressure rises to 140/90 or higher before pregnancy or before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Hypertension is caused due to high blood pressure. Some women already have high blood pressure when they become pregnant while some develop during pregnancy. The hypertension developed during pregnancy is called gestational hypertension and occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and goes away with delivery. But chronic hypertension is a condition which does not go away with pregnancy.
The reasons for chronic hypertension are not clearly understood but some factors that contribute to its occurrence are heredity, diet, and lifestyle of a person. If you are suffering from a chronic hypertension then you should consult your doctor even before conceiving and take advice. Your doctor may change your medicines that you take to control your blood pressure. This is because some medicines such as angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors pass to the fetus and harm the fetus and can bring birth defects to your child. Sometimes doctors stop all the medicines that you take to control hypertension during the first half of the pregnancy because the blood pressure decreases naturally during this course of pregnancy. But a close watch to blood pressure during pregnancy is very important and to ensure a healthy pregnancy you must visit your doctor regularly.
Most women with chronic hypertension enjoy healthy pregnancy but in some cases gestational hypertension called preeclampsia is developed in a pregnant woman’s body. Preeclampsia is a serious disorder and can be detected by the detection of protein in the urine with high blood pressure. This disorder occurs after 30 weeks of pregnancy and must be treated immediately. The symptoms of preeclampsia are severe head ache, swelling on hands and face, and unbearable pain in stomach. Untreated preeclampsia can cause serious problems. In some rare cases, Preeclampsia can bring major complication called eclampsia, which may cause seizures and coma to patients.
Delivery is the only cure of preeclampsia. Sometimes the pains are induced to initiate early delivery. If preeclampsia occurs between 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy then pains can be induced and preeclampsia can be treated without any major complications for both mother and child. If preeclampsia occurs before 37th week of pregnancy and the cervix of pregnant woman is not ready to take labor then doctors recommend some medications, complete rest, and closely monitor her for her health and for fetal development. Sometimes the patient is hospitalized and doctors wait for the labor pains to start naturally. In severe cases of preeclampsia, when it occurs between 33 to 34 weeks of pregnancy, the patient is hospitalized and is given a drug to speed up the maturity of fetus to avoid the premature delivery problems in the baby. After that labor pains are induced and baby is delivered.
All kinds of hypertensions can cause serious complications in pregnant woman. For example hypertension can block blood vessels in the uterus and reduce the supply of nutrition and oxygen to the uterus. It can cause preterm labor and placental abruption. It can also cause the baby to born with low birth weight. A premature baby can have serious health problems and everlasting disabilities. Thus it is very important to treat hypertension with utmost care during pregnancy and a woman should take the advice of her gynecologist even before conceiving and while planning a baby.