Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted on the artery walls as the fluid flows through the blood vessels. A healthy human being should have readings of below 120 for systolic and below 80 for diastolic pressure, medically indicated as 120/80. If it exceeds this, you have high blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension. Around 8% of pregnant women are diagnosed with HBP, a condition that causes strain to vital bodily organs, like the kidneys and the cardiovascular system.
There are three types of HBP commonly affecting pregnant women – gestational or preeclampsia and chronic hypertension. It is, therefore, important that pregnant women seek advice from their doctor and have their blood pressure monitored professionally. Additionally, the more knowledge you have about the causes of the HBP in your condition, the easier it will be to manage. For a quality lifestyle that will allow you to enjoy your pregnancy, keep reading to learn more about the top causes of HBP during this crucial stage of life!
Causes of HBP during Pregnancy
If you are obese, then you are likely to be diagnosed with increased blood pressure during pregnancy. Obesity is attributed to a lifestyle that involves eating a diet with elevated levels of cholesterol and fats. This leads to cholesterol plaques being lodged in the arteries, making them narrower. The blood pressure then becomes higher since you are overweight and the blood is trying to force its way through the somewhat blocked blood vessels. This is a common problem among pregnant women as most of them tend to gain more weight, a factor that leads to natural body inflammation. To curb this, you should include healthy foods in your diet and avoid the highly salty ones like processed and canned foods. Incorporate more vegetables, fruits, and foods high in electrolytes into your diet to reduce the risk of hypertension when pregnant.
While some pregnant women diagnosed with HBP are reported as having chronic hypertension before the pregnancy, a significant number of experiences are during first-time pregnancies. This HBP often begins before 20 weeks of the pregnancy and may persist for up to 12 weeks. This is attributed to the hormonal fluctuation that the body goes through when pregnant, as hormone production spikes naturally at this stage. Learning how to manage the increased blood pressure will significantly ease your way through the pregnancy.
Carrying more than one child
Women pregnant with multiple children are at a higher risk of experiencing increased blood pressure, a condition that comes with other hypertension-related diseases like preeclampsia. According to studies, at least a third of mothers pregnant with multiples are diagnosed with preeclampsia, a disorder that can be fatal if not treated early.
Age is one of the major factors associated with hypertension and its symptoms, which include stroke and heart attacks. While being pregnant increases your chances of experiencing high blood pressure, the older you are, the higher the chances of developing the condition. As such, pregnant women aged 35-years and above are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with gestational hypertension. This is because the blood vessels are weaker as they tend to break down with age. Also, the ability of the arteries to pump blood is typically reduced, leading to more pressure build-up and consequently, hypertension.
Not getting enough physical activity
Pregnant women often tend to eat unhealthy due to the cravings that come with their condition. As such, they are advised to stay active during this stage for at least 30 minutes a day. This is the best way to monitor your weight to avoid being obese, a condition that would significantly increase your chances of experiencing HBP. Furthermore, being physically active will decrease stress and keep away preeclampsia that can be life-threatening. Walking, squats, swimming, aerobics, dancing, and jogging are some of the best physical activities you can engage in during pregnancy.
Being pregnant is a happy moment for mothers, but it comes with its share of complications, like high blood pressure/hypertension. As such, you should be aware of the major causes of hypertension during pregnancy to help manage it better. This not only improves the quality of your life but also allows you to carry the baby/babies to term without further health complexities.