By Dr. Shanujeet Kaur, Gynaecology
One of the most common conditions that women develop while pregnancy is hypertension. Research reveals that hypertensive disorders affect about 2% to 3% of women during pregnancy.
Hypertensive disorders that affect pregnant women have been characterized into 4 types-
1. Chronic Hypertension- This category of hypertension, in general, precedes a pregnancy. Most of the times it gets diagnosed in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Chronic hypertension can either be mild or severe and is said to complicate about 5% of pregnancies in general. Medication for chronic hypertension should be immediately started, as it can create complications like premature birth, caesarean delivery and even death of the foetus.
2. Pre-Eclampsia- The onset of Pre-eclampsia generally starts after 20 weeks of gestation. Eclampsia which is the development of sudden convulsions may affect patients who suffer from Pre-eclampsia. Certain factors that lead to the onset of Pre-eclampsia are –
- Chronic hypertension
- Chronic renal disease
- High body mass index
- Multiple gestations
- Preeclampsia is a prior pregnancy
3. Pre-Eclampsia Superimposed on Chronic Hypertension- Women with chronic hypertension also have a risk of developing superimposed Pre-eclampsia. Thus, patients with chronic hypertension during pregnancy should be carefully treated to avoid complications. In severe cases of chronic hypertension with superimposed pre-eclampsia, there are chances of both the mother and child losing their lives.
4. Gestational Hypertension- This category of hypertensive disorders is also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). It generally affects an expecting female after 20 weeks of gestation. A patient may be diagnosed with PIH if she has -
- High blood pressure
- A record of normal blood pressure on previous occasions
- Lack of protein in the urine
- No onset of Pre-eclampsia
Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy should be carefully treated as they can cause severe complications as compared to pregnant women with normal blood pressure.