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What is Pregnancy Hypertension?

Pregnancy hypertension is a disorder which causes pregnant women to suffer with elevated blood pressure levels. Other indicators besides high blood pressure include water retention and higher levels of protein in the urine. In most cases, pregnancy hypertension tends to occur in the second half of pregnancy. The condition can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

There are a few important indicators that a woman can generally use to determine if she has pregnancy hypertension. She may suffer from fatigue, headaches, spots in the vision, or blurred vision. Other common symptoms include abdominal pain, frequent urination, shortness of breath, and nausea. Some women with pregnancy hypertension may also have bruising from very small injuries.

The cause of pregnancy hypertension is basically unknown to science, but there are a few things that seem to increase a woman’s risk. Women with diabetes have a greater chance of developing the condition, as do African American women and women who are having twins. Pregnancy in the teen years or beyond the age of 35 is also associated with heightened risk.

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Doctors are normally pretty cautious about gestational hypertension, and they will generally do tests for it during pregnancy checkups. These tests include blood pressure measurements and urine tests. If either of those show signs of pregnancy hypertension, the doctor may decide to do further testing in order to confirm the diagnosis, including blood tests and possibly a Doppler scan, which examines the blood supply to the embryo.

Treatment varies quite a bit depending on the severity of the high blood pressure and the stage of the pregnancy. Doctors are generally hesitant to prescribe blood pressure medication to a pregnant woman because it could be dangerous to the fetus, but they will do so if the condition is severe enough. If the pregnancy is in the later stages, doctors will often either do a cesarean section or try to induce labor. In the early stages of pregnancy, some doctors may simply prescribe bed rest, and they sometimes recommend resting on the left side of the body, which has the potential to take some strain off the blood vessels.

If left untreated, the disorder can lead to serious problems. Blood vessels in various body organs can rupture, causing swelling, breathing difficulties, brain damage, and blindness. Pregnancy hypertension can also lead to low birth weight babies and pose other serious risks to the fetus.

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