High Blood Pressure in Pregnant Women on the Rise

Study finds more women 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 women 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 women with chronic hypertension during the study.”

Why high blood pressure is even worse for pregnant women

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

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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 for women to be the healthiest they can be before they conceive, because everything about a mom’s health affects the health of her baby. Getting chronic health conditions under control before pregnancy helps keep women healthy for years to come.

“The important thing for women 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.”

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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 women with chronic hypertension to talk with their doctors.

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