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Causes of High Blood Pressure in Early Pregnancy

High Blood Pressure
Table of Contents

Blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/80 mm Hg is known as high blood pressure. The condition is a severe concern for pregnant women. However, hypertension is not always a dangerous matter during pregnancy as it can be managed.

If not treated, it can cause severe health complications for both mother and the developing baby. According to stats, around 6% to 8% of pregnant women have this condition.

High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Several potential causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Less physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • First-time pregnancy
  • Family history of pregnancy-related hypertension
  • Pregnancy with more than one child
  • Age over 35
  • Getting pregnant through assistive reproductive technology, such as IVF
  • Having diabetes or certain autoimmune diseases

Risk Factors

The following risk factors could make high blood pressure more possible during pregnancy:


Unhealthy lifestyle choices have a greater chance of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Being obese and not staying active are major risk factors for developing hypertension in early pregnancy.

Type of Pregnancy

Women getting pregnant for the first time are more likely to have high blood pressure problems. The good part is that there is a lower chance of hypertension in subsequent pregnancies.

Carrying multiple babies can make it more possible for a woman to develop hypertension as the body is working harder to nourish the babies.


Pregnant women over the age of 35 are at higher risk of hypertension. Likewise, women who had high blood pressure before pregnancy will also experience it in their pregnancies.

Types of Blood Pressure Conditions Related to Pregnancy

High blood pressure during pregnancy is divided into the following three conditions:

Chronic Hypertension

Sometimes, a woman has preexisting hypertension before getting pregnant. It is known as chronic hypertension and is usually treated with blood pressure medication.

Gestational Hypertension

Gestational hypertension forms after the 20th week of pregnancy, and it usually settles after delivery. However, if diagnosed before 20 weeks, there is a higher chance of preeclampsia.

Chronic Hypertension with Superimposed Preeclampsia

Women who have chronic hypertension before becoming pregnant can develop preeclampsia. It transpires when they see protein in their urine or further complications as the pregnancy advances. Therefore, it is crucial to talk to your doctor about it and take necessary precautions. Book an appointment with the best Gynecologist in Lahore through Marham for more information. 

Complications of High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

If you have hypertension during pregnancy, you may face the following complications:


It causes severe damage to your organs, including your brain and kidneys. It is also known as toxemia, and with seizures, it becomes eclampsia. If left untreated, it can be deadly.

Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal swelling, particularly in hands and face
  • Nonstop headaches
  • Seeing spots and other changes in vision
  • Excessive upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting even later in pregnancy
  • Having difficulty breathing

This condition can be dangerous for both you and your baby. You should call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

HELLP Syndrome

HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. This condition is severe and life-threatening.

Symptoms of HELLP include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Upper abdominal pain

Because this condition can damage organ systems vital to life. Medical care focus on reducing blood pressure for the health of the mother and the baby. Moreover, in some cases, premature delivery is needed.

Hypertension during pregnancy can also affect the baby’s growth rate, resulting in low birth weight.

Other complications include:

  • Placental abruption
  • Preterm delivery
  • Cesarean delivery, or C-section


Most common risk factors for hypertension, such as obesity, can be reduced through diet and exercise.

It is normal to gain some weight during pregnancy. However, you should talk to your doctor about the target range of your weight to keep your blood pressure normal.

Diets for pregnant women can vary depending on the overall health of the mother-to-be. A nutritionist can help create a meal plan customized as per the individual needs.

Moreover, you should not be smoking and drinking alcohol to keep your blood pressure in a normal range. These things raise blood pressure and cause many complications during pregnancy.

On the other side, salt is vital during pregnancy, and it is usually not needed to limit salt intake, even for pregnant women with high blood pressure. Limiting salt too much is detrimental to pregnant women and can affect the growth and development of your baby.

Pregnancy generates hormone shifts along with psychological and physical changes. It can result in high stress, making high blood pressure more difficult to manage. Therefore, try stress-reduction methods such as yoga and meditation.


Traditional blood pressure medications can cause issues in pregnant women. The drugs for lowering blood pressure are generally not advised during pregnancy. These drugs will pass through the bloodstream to the baby and adversely impact the baby’s healthy development. Usually, Methyldopa and labetalol are considered safe to manage blood pressure during pregnancy.

In general, if high blood pressure goes untreated during pregnancy, it can become deadly for the mother and the baby. Hypertensive disorders are the second-leading cause of maternal death during pregnancy Learn More

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