High blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous

High blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous – All you need to know about preeclampsia

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New Delhi: pregnancy is truly fulfilling but despite being one of the most anticipated experiences, women can be subjected to various complications during pregnancy that can often be life-threatening. Hypertension is also known as the silent killer. When combined with pregnancy, it can be one of the most dangerous complications that can affect the mother and the child.

Times Now Digital connected with Dr Shalini Vijay, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, at Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar and Dr Swati Chitnis, Obstetrician & Gynecologist at Shalby Multispecialty Hospitals, Ahmedabad to get insight into the condition of preeclampsia.

Dr Shalini Vijay elaborated on the condition and said, “Preeclampsia means a sudden rise in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy. You will be shocked to know that this condition can take a toll on the pregnant woman’s kidneys, liver, and brain. If not treated at the right time, preeclampsia can turn into eclampsia which leads to organ damage, seizures, and even death.”

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“There are many women in the country who have preeclampsia during pregnancy. It is the need of the hour to manage this condition to deliver a healthy baby,” she added.

Dr Swati commented on the timeline of preeclampsia emergence and said, “This condition can range from minor or severe and typically occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, it can even develop earlier or shortly after birth.”

Preeclampsia – Signs and symptoms

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According to Dr Vijay, some symptoms of preeclampsia in women may include:

  1. Excessive protein in the urine
  2. Vision problems
  3. Headache, chest pain
  4. Nausea or vomiting
  5. Abdominal pain
  6. breathing problems
  7. Impaired liver function

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Dr Swati said that the patients may sometimes experience no symptoms at all. She added, “Severe Preeclampsia can include symptoms such as decreased liver function, fluid in the lungs, and seizures. These could be accompanied by low blood platelet levels (thrombocytopenia) and reduced urine production.”

Preeclampsia – Risk factors and causes

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According to Dr Shalini, the risk factors of preeclampsia may include age, family history, preeclampsia during the previous pregnancy, multiple pregnancies, etc. Some causes of preeclampsia are:

  1. chronic hypertension
  2. Kidney disease
  3. diabetes
  4. Obesity
  5. Autoimmune conditions

According to Dr Chitnis, “Preeclampsia is believed to come from a problem with the health of the placenta (the organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy and is responsible for providing oxygen and nutrients to the fetus). The blood supply to the placenta might be decreased in preeclampsia, and this can lead to problems for both you and the fetus. Poor nutrition or high body fat might also contribute to the development of preeclampsia. A lack of blood flow to the uterus or genes could also be a factor. may not be one of the direct causes but can aggravate and intensify existing symptoms of preeclampsia.”

Preeclampsia – Impact on the baby

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Highlighting the effect of preeclampsia on the baby, Dr Vijay said, “This condition can be dangerous for the baby as it can lead to placental abruption (premature detachment of the placenta from the uterus). This will cause heavy bleeding and can be life-threatening for both the mother and baby. Fetal growth restriction and preterm birth are some of the other complications that arise due to preeclampsia.”

Dr Chitnis elucidated on the long-term impact of preeclampsia on the baby and said, “Preeclampsia can lead to intrauterine growth restriction, decreased amniotic fluid, premature birth and associated complications, asphyxia (less oxygen supply) and even intrauterine death. This condition can have adverse effects and long-term consequences on the development of the baby as well. The baby’s cognitive skills can be affected even into adulthood and milestones may be delayed.”

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Preeclampsia – Impact on the mother

Dr Vijay commented on other health complications that can be triggered by preeclampsia and said, “Preeclampsia is linked to fluid retention and protein excretion in the urine which can raise the risk of kidney failure and end-stage renal disease. One may also suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) later in life.”

Preeclampsia treatment

Dr Swati shared an insight into the treatment of preeclampsia and said, “The healthcare practitioner will generally advise the best way forward when diagnosed with preeclampsia because the treatment will range basis the severity of the condition and the pregnancy stage. While there is no defined cure for preeclampsia, the only way to halt the progressive condition is delivery. If the baby has developed by 37 weeks or later, the doctor may advise labor or a C-section.”

“Mild preeclampsia is also treated by continuous bed rest (restricted physical activities) mostly on the left side with monitoring of the fetus’s heart rate and regular ultrasounds. The healthcare professional may even prescribe medicines to lower blood pressure, magnesium injections for preventing seizures, and steroid injections to speed up the baby’s lung development while also conducting frequent blood and urine tests,” she added.

Preeclampsia management

The expert emphasises the importance of taking good care of the health when suffering from preeclampsia and suggested the following management tips:

  1. Monitor the blood pressure on a regular basis. Any changes in the BP should be reported to the doctor.
  2. Go for blood tests that will help you to evaluate your kidney and liver health.
  3. Take medication only prescribed by the doctor and avoid any over-the-counter medication.
  4. Opt for a well-balanced diet loaded with fiber and foods low in fat.
  5. Drink enough water and eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and pulses.
  6. Avoid junk, oily, packaged, and processed foods high in sodium.
  7. Limit your intake of carbohydrates, potatoes, fruit juices, colas, sweets, candies, and desserts.
  8. Exercise on a daily basis and avoid heavy workouts. You can go for walking, yoga or aerobics.
  9. Speak to the doctor before starting any fitness routine.
  10. Try to maintain an optimum weight during pregnancy.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.

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