If you’re thinking of having kids someday, you may want to consider fertility testing and being proactive about your heart health. As early as your first month of pregnancy, a doctor can start testing you for high blood pressure, and you can even have it monitored during your entire pregnancy.
That’s because at the beginning of pregnancy, your blood pressure can rise significantly, but then return to normal after birth, explained Dr. Alexa Mendez, assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Omaha, Neb. “In fact, some women have elevated blood pressure prenatally and don’t know it,” she mentioned in her studies. “That’s why we need to be able to identify high blood pressure early and deliver the child at a healthy weight.”
High blood pressure is not a one-time occurrence. When it becomes too high, you have to take proactive steps to bring it under control, which is why the high-risk strategy is so important.
How to calculate your blood pressure
High blood pressure affects more than 35 million people in the United States alone. When you have hypertension, your blood pressure is more than 140/90mmHg, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can use a standard medical stethoscope to measure your blood pressure, and then track it in your journal or online.
Most doctors recommends getting a blood pressure monitor that has a cuff that doesn’t have to be tightened before use, like this one from MyPulse.
How to tell if you’re high risk
The American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2018 physical exam guidelines recommend having a blood pressure screening at your first annual exam. In fact, if your doctor does not have access to blood pressure information for you, they can’t do a comprehensive blood pressure assessment for you.
“The good news is that if you know you have high blood pressure and a blood pressure cuff is not available, there are other ways to check your blood pressure.” Your doctor can use a blood pressure monitor with an auto-calibration feature or he or she can use a cuff with a wrist cuff.”
Long-term consequences of high blood pressure
When it comes to pregnancy, a common question is: Are high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes related? And the short answer is yes. Hypertension, in many cases, is a symptom of diabetes, especially in women. In some cases, a woman has a lot of other risk factors — such as diabetes, obesity, and smoking — that raise her blood pressure, and it’s simply a case of ‘bad luck’ that she ends up with high blood pressure. Other times, it’s caused by genetics and the absence of lifestyle changes.
The longer your blood pressure stays high, the more your risk for strokes increases. In addition, there is an increased risk for heart disease and strokes.
While it’s important to find the cause of high blood pressure, some risks are out of our control.
That’s why it’s so important to get treated. Medication works wonders to control high blood pressure and to prevent strokes and heart attacks. So if your doctor is recommending blood pressure medication for you, or if you’re pregnant and are concerned about your high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about your risk factors and get started on your medication.
What causes high blood pressure during pregnancy?
Some people have what is called “healthy blood pressure” during pregnancy. This is when blood pressure is normal throughout the first trimester and even lower in the third trimester. For women like these, it is usually not a problem.
Healthy blood pressure is an indication that the blood supply to the baby is adequate, the placenta is strong and there is enough fluid around the baby. A healthy pregnancy for these women will see no need for bed rest. However, when a woman has a pre-existing high blood pressure condition, the benefits of normal blood pressure may not be as good. For these women, there is a danger that their blood pressure may go higher than normal during pregnancy, which will put them at higher risk of pre-term labour. When their blood pressure rises high enough, this can have an effect on the umbilical cord and increase the risk of damage to the baby, or even death.
How high blood pressure can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy
Some signs that a woman’s blood pressure has gone up during pregnancy include:
- the baby’s movements become irregular;
- baby’s heart rate becomes weak;
- the mother feels the baby moving less frequently;
If you experience any of these signs, you should discuss them with your doctor. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, discuss it with your doctor as well.
It is important to understand that pre-eclampsia is still a significant health risk to both mothers and babies. It is especially dangerous if it is severe enough to cause seizures or very low blood pressure, which can be fatal for both mother and baby. The longer a pre-eclampsia pregnancy goes on, the higher the risk of severe complications and the more serious they are.
what is pre-eclampsia and what are the risk factors?
A woman can develop pre-eclampsia during pregnancy if she has a condition known as placental insufficiency. This happens when the placenta doesn’t function well. Pre-eclampsia can also develop when a woman is overweight or obese. It can also occur in women with a prior history of hypertension. If you’re pregnant and find you’re experiencing some of the symptoms, it’s best to visit your GP.
Early signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy can include:
- abdominal pain and swelling
- loody diarrhoea or stomach pains
- fast heartbeat
- difficulty breathing
Causes of pre-eclampsia and how to reduce it
Women who have had pre-eclampsia have had their blood vessels constrict, which makes it difficult for blood to circulate around the body properly. The longer this happens, the higher the risk of pre-term labour or of birth defects to the baby. These include:
- Long term damage to the blood vessels. This can cause heart problems and stroke in the mother.
- Disturbance of the placental blood flow, which causes placenta to come away from the uterine wall and affect the blood supply to the baby. This can result in anencephaly and other serious birth defects.
- High blood pressure in the mother. If a mother has pre-eclampsia, the foetus is more likely to have pre-term delivery and may also have a large head and a shortage of oxygen to the brain.
How to prevent pre-eclampsia
Pre-eclampsia is hard to avoid and you can do little to prevent it if you already have it. You should make sure you have had the best health care during your pregnancy. This includes regular check-ups at your doctor’s office and a scan of the baby before and after the pregnancy.
It is important that you are monitored for signs of pre-eclampsia, especially if you are pregnant with twins or triplets. If you have had pre-eclampsia or any kind of high blood pressure before pregnancy, then it is important that you are closely monitored during pregnancy. Or If your blood pressure goes too high, this will increase the risk of pre-term labour. Even If you have a history of high blood pressure during your pregnancy or previously, this is an indication that your blood pressure may be too high when you are pregnant.
If you are diabetic, ask your doctor about hypoglycemia precautions if you are pregnant. Else, If you are diabetic or have gestational diabetes, it is important that you ensure that your blood glucose levels stay within a healthy range during pregnancy.
Sometimes, If your blood sugar levels drop too low, you may develop hypoglycemia and complications of the pregnancy. It is also important that you make sure that you do not gain too much weight, as this can put too much stress on your body. If you have a history of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in your family, make sure that you discuss these issues with your doctor.
Keeping your weight gain to a healthy level is also important. If you are overweight or obese, it can be harder to keep blood sugar levels stable. It is also important to drink plenty of water during pregnancy.
Many health problems can occur if you are pregnant with twins or triplets. Pre-eclampsia is a serious health risk that can have some serious and life-threatening complications.
It is important to ensure that you have a healthy diet during your pregnancy, to avoid high blood pressure and to take steps to prevent blood clots.
If your doctor suspects that you have pre-eclampsia, then it is important to make sure that you are monitored at regular check-ups during pregnancy. Make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions. Your doctor will tell you when to call the emergency services and what to expect.