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High Blood Pressure in Pregnant People on the Rise

Study finds more people have chronic hypertension, even before they’re pregnant

Doctor taking blood pressure of pregnant woman

A healthy mom often means a healthy baby. But according to one study, the number of pregnant moms with chronic high blood pressure is on the rise. Chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the force of blood pushing against the blood vessel walls is too high.

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Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows 1 in 3 American adults has high blood pressure.

“What we’re seeing is more and more people have chronic hypertension before they’re even pregnant,” says Salena Zanotti, MD, who did not take part in the study. “There was an almost 6% rise per year in people with chronic hypertension during the study.”

Why high blood pressure is even worse for pregnant people

Uncontrolled hypertension greatly increases a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke – but the risks are even higher for pregnant moms.

Dr. Zanotti says chronic hypertension, at the start of pregnancy, increases a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia – a severe and significant disease that is harmful for both mom and baby.

She says it’s important to be the healthiest you can be before you conceive. That’s because everything about a mom’s health affects the health of their baby. Getting chronic health conditions under control before pregnancy helps keep you healthy for years to come.

“The important thing for them to also realize – if you have high blood pressure and you’re pregnant and develop more blood pressure problems – it affects you down the road too,” says Dr. Zanotti. “It increases your risk of stroke and heart attack 10, 20 even 30 years down the road.”

Dr. Zanotti says many times, blood pressure can be controlled with a good diet, exercise and not smoking, but there are times when a person needs medication too. There are some blood pressure controlling medications that are safe to take while pregnant, so it’s important for those who are expecting and have chronic hypertension to talk with their doctors.

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