Pregnancy (or gestational) hypertension is defined as blood pressure greater than 140/90mmHg. If protein is present in the urine (proteinuria), it is called pre-eclampsia. Both of these situations should be monitored very carefully during pregnancy, as both can have severe or even dramatic consequences (especially with preeclampsia), both for the pregnant woman and for the fetus. It is estimated that hypertensive pathology of pregnancy, regardless of its form, affects about 10% of pregnancies. It is the most common complication of pregnancy.

The treatment of hypertension in pregnancy refers above all to rest, as well as to taking antihypertensive drugs, with regular medical examinations to monitor the evolution, in particular to quickly detect possible proteinuria. But what about after childbirth?

We know that hypertension in pregnancy increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. To further refine this association, a British team (St George’s University of London) looked at data from some 8,000 mothers, about a third of whom had developed pregnancy-induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia.

  • Within two years of giving birth, 28% of women who had hypertension in pregnancy were diagnosed with hypertension, compared to 9% of those who did not. This increased risk is early, since in one in five cases chronic hypertension sets in within the first six months after childbirth.
  • In the event of pre-eclampsia, the risk of high blood pressure is multiplied by seven within two years after childbirth, again with early diagnosis (six out of ten cases within six months).
  • The data do not vary much depending on whether or not the woman was hypertensive before the pregnancy.

As summarized by Dr Catherine Vicariot (International Journal of Medicine): “These results confirm the need for early cardiovascular management of women who have developed hypertensive pathology of pregnancy”. This treatment is based first of all on close monitoring, hygiene and diet recommendations (diet, tobacco, physical exercise, etc.), and where appropriate, when the diagnosis of high blood pressure is made, the administration of drugs.

Cassidy Perry

A certified dietician specializing in diabetes care, Cassidy has over a decade of experience working with diverse patient backgrounds. She writes health-related articles for the Scientific Origin.