Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (HDP) have been identified as a major health problem worldwide. (Source: Getty Images)
By Dr Karnika Tiwari
The prevalence of hypertension in women of reproductive age is among the most common medical conditions of pregnancy in India. This can have a very negative impact on the mother and the foetus if early diagnosis and proper precautions are not taken. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (HDP) ranked second and have been identified as a major worldwide health problem, associated with increased prenatal morbidity and mortality. Chronic or acute hypertension such as gestational, pre-existing, preeclampsia and eclampsia today complicate up to 10 per cent of pregnancies, which has a significant impact on women, highlighting problems for infants.
Some women enter into pregnancy with a high blood pressure condition, but many develop pregnancy-induced hypertension after the 20th week. When hypertension is well-managed during pregnancy, it isn't always dangerous. But it's important to first understand what causes these complications. An unhealthy lifestyle and type of pregnancy can be huge contributors to hypertension. It is believed that age can also be a huge factor and women over the age of 35 are likely to experience high blood pressure during their pregnancy days.
Underlying causes of hypertension include:
· Being overweight
· Not much physical activity
· Smoking and drinking alcohol
· Family history of pregnancy-related hypertension
· Carrying more than one child
· Age (over 35)
· Assisted reproductive technology (such as in vitro fertilisation or IVF)
These conditions can increase blood pressure early or even during pregnancy. High blood pressure during the time of pregnancy can be defined as 140 mm Hg or higher. However, this is usually treatable and preventable if it's controlled well. If women are experiencing symptoms such as headache, swelling, dizziness, weight gain, abdominal pain, nausea, etc, they must immediately talk with their healthcare provider / doctor and get the right treatment for controlling blood pressure. Getting treated before, during and after pregnancy is very important. Women with hypertension must continue taking antihypertensive tablets during their pregnancy if recommended by their healthcare provider. In some cases, doctors may advise medications to lower blood pressure or get pregnant women hospitalised under monitoring. This often depends on the condition of the mother and how far along the pregnancy is.
Tips to reduce hypertension risks
Taking great care of yourself is the best method to take care of your baby. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of complications caused by hypertension:
Track your prenatal appointments: Visit your doctor regularly throughout your pregnancy.
Take medication as prescribed: Your doctor will prescribe the safest medication to lower the risk of hypertension.
Make amendments to your lifestyle and stay active: Follow a healthy lifestyle and recommendations for physical activity provided by your doctor during pregnancy. It is vital to get regular exercises intact for your body.
Eat a healthy diet: Your doctor may request you speak with a nutritionist if you need to follow a healthy diet plan.
Know what's off-limits: Avoid smoking and alcohol to increase the risk of hypertension.
Drink lots of water: It is important to stay hydrated at all times. An intake of eight to 10 glasses should suffice and help in controlling high blood pressure / blood levels.
(The writer is Consultant-Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Motherland Hospital, Noida.)