Census of hypertension and pregnancyThe gestational hypertension is also called as the pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) which is a condition wherein the pregnant mother’s blood pressure is beyond the normal limit. This condition can also lead to a more serious problem known as preeclampsia (sometimes called as toxemia). Many women are affected by some hypertensive diseases, especially in the first pregnancy. These problems fall into several different categories: chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, and pre-eclampsia superimposed on chronic hypertension. Based on the current census of the WHO, gestational hypertension during pregnancy is affecting approximately 6-8% of all pregnant mothers.
High risk groups for pregnancy hypertensionFirst time mothers are high risk of having gestational hypertension (high blood pressure). This is because most of them are not aware of the appropriate diet regimen for pregnant mothers. There are several mothers who have poor lifestyle even before they got pregnant. Most of them tend to eat foods which are high in fats and sodium. These substances are considered as factors that can promote or develop hypertension in the later stage. A pregnant mother who continues eating foods which are high in saturated fats is predisposed to pregnancy induced hypertension. Foods such as red meat, pork, and dried foods are rich in fats. Milk chocolate is very rich in saturated fats and sugar. Eating foods like this increases the amount of fats in the body that can affect the viscosity of the blood. This will lead to the increasing workload of the heart that pumps the blood all throughout the body organs.
Genetics or hereditary factor is another concern which predisposes the pregnant mother to have pih. Patients who have familial history of hypertension are most likely to acquire the same condition. During the physical and maternal assessment, the pregnant mother will be asked about her history of health illness. This includes the common health condition that occurs to paternal and maternal sides. If the pregnant woman has a sister or mother who suffered from pregnancy induced hypertension will have 50 – 75% chance of acquiring the same condition.
Pregnant mother ages 40 and above are high risk of manifesting the symptoms of hypertension with high blood pressure. This is due to the increasing resistance of the blood against the arterial wall. Another reason is the elasticity of the blood vessels. As the woman ages, the blood vessels elasticity becomes lesser. Once the vessels elasticity is poor the blood flow is not properly distributed to all body organs. Most especially if the woman is pregnant. The oxygen demand of the growing fetus can alter the blood supply. Hence, this will worsen the situation which will lead to gestational hypertension.
Mothers with diabetes mellitus are prone to pih. This is because the sugar content in the blood is beyond normal. This will thicken the blood which will affect the circulation. The viscosity of the blood can influence the pumping activity of the heart and eventually will lead to hypertension during pregnancy. Another condition that can predispose pregnant mothers to have hypertension is kidney problems. The kidney is responsible for producing hormone which influences the blood pressure. If the kidney is damaged (kidney failure, infection, inflammation of the kidney) this will affect the production of the hormone which is responsible for the homeostasis (balance) of blood pressure might lead high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Race is another factor which is considered as non-modifiable risks for manifesting symptoms of hypertension. Based on research the African-American women are prone to this condition compare to Latin-American. This is due to the eating habits. Most of the African-American women are fond of eating foods from fast-food chains which has high concentration of calories and fats. Eating foods such as French fries, burgers, steaks, and other foods from fast-food chains will increase the risk of the women to suffer from high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Diagnosing pregnancy and hypertensionSince this condition is very common to pregnant women, most of the doctors are advising the pregnant patients to undergo regular prenatal checkup. During the assessment, the patient’s blood pressure is monitored. The urine specimen will be examined for the presence of protein. These tests will determine if the pregnant women has hypertension. Manifestations such as headache, edema, and frequent seizures are the common symptoms of hypertension to pregnant mothers. This is a serious condition which may affect the health status of the mother and the baby.
Other tests that are used to diagnose this condition are blood-clotting factor and kidney examinations. As for the status of the fetus, ultrasound scanning is used to monitor the progress of baby’s development. Doppler scan is also used to determine the efficiency of blood supply to the placenta.
Effect of hypertension to the babyHypertension will limit the blood supply to the placenta. If the placenta receives insufficient amount of blood supply, the baby will not meet the appropriate nutritional and oxygen needs. The outcome will be low birth weight. Pregnant mothers who are diagnosed with hypertension and receive prompt treatment can still deliver the baby through vaginal delivery. However, if they failed to receive the proper treatment and the condition worsens, they will require immediate medical intervention such as cesarean section or induced delivery.
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