James Matheson, DO
Healthy Living

Hypertension and Preeclampsia: What to Know if You’re Pregnant

Jan 4 2022

Finding out that you’re pregnant can be one of the most joyous moments of your life! As you begin to plan for life with a new baby, it is common to start making healthier choices during pregnancy that will benefit yourself and your baby.

However, one of the various, potentially serious complications expectant mothers face is preeclampsia or hypertension that develops during pregnancy. The symptoms are often very similar to the standard side effects seen in pregnancy – severe headaches, changes in vision, abdominal pain as well as nausea or vomiting. Therefore, it’s very important for anyone experiencing these symptoms past the early stages of pregnancy to be screened and monitored closely.

“Blood pressure elevation prior to 20 weeks is considered chronic hypertension, while elevation after the 20-week mark can be preeclampsia,” James Matheson, DO, an OBGYN with Mercy Health – Lorain, shares. “It typically presents with elevated blood pressure above a certain level.”

Dr. Matheson adds that he’s recently noticed a major jump in the number of patients he is seeing who are experiencing hypertension and preeclampsia – going from two cases per month to two every week.

Excess protein in the urine can also be a sign of preeclampsia, while abnormalities in certain blood tests can also indicate a more severe form of preeclampsia. That’s why those who are diagnosed with the condition should continuously monitor their symptoms and openly communicate with their health care provider about them to avoid serious complications.

“There are maternal and fetal risks with preeclampsia,” Dr. Matheson says. “In extreme cases, we have to deliver early in an attempt to prevent the progression of preeclampsia, which can result in seizures for the mother and affect the baby’s growth in utero, or cause placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus, depriving the baby of oxygen and nutrients, causing heavy bleeding in the mother.”

While hypertension and preeclampsia have complicated pregnancies for a long time, there is no treatment or cure for the condition. Still, with proper monitoring and communication, preeclampsia can be managed or even prevented. For example, in recent studies, women who are considered at-risk have been prescribed low-dose aspirin which can have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Each pregnancy can have its own unique set of obstacles, but your health care provider is there to help you understand and create a plan to help you overcome any challenges to successfully deliver a healthy baby.

If you have questions about preeclampsia or would like to speak to one of our providers about your pregnancy, learn about the maternity care services we offer at Mercy Health.

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