What Happens If You Get High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed on 12/29/2022
High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
Pregnancy hypertension is serious and should be managed; however, it may not cause complications for everyone.

A blood pressure reading of above 140/90 mmHg is increased blood pressure. During pregnancy, hypertension or high blood pressure leads to various health problems for the mother and fetus.

High blood pressure in a pregnant person may cause decreased blood flow to the placenta. The fetus may receive inadequate oxygen and nutrients, which may result in poor growth and a low birth weight of the baby.

What are the types of high blood pressure during pregnancy?

There are various types of high blood pressure during pregnancy. The most common types include:

  • Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure begins before pregnancy or early during the pregnancy (before 20 weeks). This type of high blood pressure may continue after the baby’s birth.
    • People with chronic hypertension may develop chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia. Chronic hypertension causes pregnancy-related high blood pressure to worsen. Protein in the urine and other complications may occur.
  • Gestational hypertension: This affects in the later stages of pregnancy (after 20 weeks) and may need regular doctor visits. Gestational hypertension may gradually lead to preeclampsia. It does not cause increased protein in the urine or organ damage.
  • Preeclampsia: Develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The healthcare provider may notice increased proteins in urine (proteinuria). Preeclampsia can affect the liver, kidney, lungs, brain, and placenta. The affected brain may result in seizures.

What are the causes of increased blood pressure during pregnancy?

The exact cause of increased blood pressure during pregnancy is unknown.

The following risk factors may lead to increased blood pressure during pregnancy:

  • Obesity
  • Age (pregnancy at the age older than 35 years or younger than 20 years)
  • Family history of pregnancy-related hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • First pregnancy
  • Multiple babies
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Kidney diseases

What are the problems caused by increased blood pressure during pregnancy?

High blood pressure during pregnancy may result in the following:

  • Decreased blood flow to the placenta can lead to poor intrauterine growth of the fetus. This may result in low birth weight or premature babies. Premature babies have low immunity, which may result in infections and poorly developed lungs.
  • Placental abruptions occur. The placenta gets separated from the inner wall of the uterus, which leads to heavy bleeding. It could be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.
  • Poor growth of the fetus.
  • Preeclampsia may raise the likelihood of future heart and blood vessel diseases (cardiovascular disease). If you have had preeclampsia multiple times, your chances of developing cardiovascular disease are higher. The risk is even greater if you had a premature delivery as a result of having high blood pressure while pregnant.


The first sign of pregnancy is most often: See Answer

What are the signs of increased blood pressure during pregnancy?

A few signs of high blood pressure during pregnancy are:

What are the complications of increased blood pressure during pregnancy?

Pregnancy hypertension may not cause complications in everyone.

Some of the complications that occur include:

How to ensure safe delivery with high blood pressure

The safety measures that must be followed with high blood pressure during pregnancy are:

  • Take medications prescribed for hypertension during pregnancy
  • Be regular with doctor visits and blood pressure monitoring
  • Have a healthy diet with low salt
  • Do exercise and physical activities as instructed by your healthcare provider
  • Seek medical care when required

How to monitor the baby’s health in persons with high blood pressure

The following diagnostic tests are done to monitor the fetus:

  • Ultrasound
  • Non-stress test
  • Biophysical profile
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Check for fetal movements
Medically Reviewed on 12/29/2022
Image Source: iStock image

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/pregnancy.htm

High blood pressure and pregnancy: Know the facts. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20046098