High blood pressure or hypertension, which kills eight million people every year worldwide, is one of the most important causes of premature death worldwide and the problem is growing.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), hypertension “is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. The burden of hypertension is felt disproportionately in low- and middle-income countries, where two thirds of cases are found, largely due to increased risk factors in those populations in recent decades.
Preeclampsia, is a high-blood-pressure condition during gestation can potentially restrict the growth of the foetus and affect pregnancy outcomes, say Ghaziabad-based health expert. Preeclampsia usually gets triggered around 20 weeks of pregnancy and can be potentially life-threatening. It can lead to preterm birth or stillbirths as well as early neonatal deaths. “Preeclampsia is known to affect arteries, which provide blood to the placenta. This restricts the growth of the foetus,” Sanjay Mittal, Consultant Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad, said in a statement.
Although the exact number of women who develop preeclampsia is not known, some estimates suggest that preeclampsia affects two to eight percent of all pregnancies globally and accounts for 10 to 15 percent of maternal deaths worldwide, according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While it may develop without any symptoms, rising blood pressure along with severe headaches, changes in vision, nausea and vomiting, liver- or kidney-related problems, and most importantly high protein levels in urine, could be key indicators.
Preeclampsia can also lead to another major complication called HELLP syndrome — a life-threatening condition that occurs in about 10 to 20 percent of all women with severe preeclampsia.
The syndrome causes problems with blood, liver, and blood pressure and can damage organs or trigger a stroke and lead to cardiovascular diseases of both the mother and baby.
“The unfortunate part is that there is no known strategy to prevent preeclampsia. With the extent of potential damage that can be caused by the disorder, the most important preventive measure is to control hypertension in women before and around pregnancy,” Mittal said.