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How is High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Treated?

Many doctors choose to treat high blood pressure during pregnancy with various drugs or bed rest and regular fetal evaluation. The type of treatment chosen relies heavily on the severity of the blood pressure. Some of the most common drugs prescribed by doctors for high blood pressure during pregnancy include various beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. Drugs are usually prescribed for women who have blood pressure readings at or above 150/100 mmHg because of the possible risk the drugs pose to the fetus. Women with blood pressure levels that are only slightly elevated may be advised to get more rest, limit daily activity, and keep an eye on their blood pressure levels daily.

Having high blood pressure during pregnancy typically means that there is a risk the mother will develop preeclampsia. This disorder is usually diagnosed in pregnant women who have consistently high blood pressure and protein in their urine. Preeclampsia could result in a low-birthweight baby, placental abruption, and possibly premature delivery. In rare cases, it may cause a baby to be stillborn. In addition to high blood pressure and protein in the urine, other symptoms of preeclampsia may include headaches, upper abdominal pain, or blurred vision.

Doctors often prescribe bed rest in addition to blood pressure medications and fetal monitoring for women with very high blood pressure during pregnancy. There are reports that bed rest may do very little to lower blood pressure, but it may still be beneficial because it can keep a woman from participating in activities that might increase her levels. It is most often recommended during the third trimester, which is when most women experience excessive swelling and other negative pregnancy side effects. Bed rest may help a great deal with swelling and puffiness during pregnancy because water retention tends to worsen when a woman is on her feet frequently throughout the day.

There are some things a woman can do at home to help lower her blood pressure in addition to doctor-prescribed methods. In some cases, high blood pressure during pregnancy is a result of gaining too much weight too quickly. Doctors typically do not advise women to diet during pregnancy, but eating healthier foods in addition to limiting salt intake may help a woman to gain weight at a normal pace. Limiting daily activity is usually recommended by doctors for high blood pressure pregnancies, but some very light exercise, such as walking or swimming, may be beneficial. It is important for a woman to ask her doctor before doing any type of exercise, either light or heavy, if she has high blood pressure during pregnancy.

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