We’ve all heard about high blood pressure, but some people see the stories portrayed in the media, and assume it is largely a male phenomenon, or is something rather laughable, like the angry boss with steam coming out of his ears.
But high blood pressure can be very serious, and if left untreated, it can cause harmful effects to most of the organs in the body. It is always a good idea to have yours checked at least once a year even if you’ve never been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Early detection of high blood pressure and its control is a main key to preventing damage to organs such as the heart and the kidneys. The kidneys play a major role in the blood pressure regulation.
If you are planning to become pregnant, it is also a good idea to have your blood pressure tested out. This will provide a baseline to work with when you do become pregnant: any changes will be easy to locate. Blood pressure normally declines slightly in pregnancy so any rise gives cause for some concern.
An increase in blood pressure during pregnancy can be an indication of preeclampsia which is a serious life-threatening problem requiring urgent medical attention. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is also not desirable as this predisposes one to high blood pressure and preeclampsia.
In general, preeclampsia can manifest after the 20th week of pregnancy. If tests reveal high blood pressure and protein in the mother’s urine sample simultaneously, the midwives and/or obstetricians caring for the mother and foetus should be informed urgently.
Preeclampsia affects the mother’s brain and vital organs as well as the placenta, and if left untreated can cause seizures which can occasionally lead to death. Several women are predisposed to high blood pressure. They include:
* Women who have had high blood pressure or preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy
* Women who have a previous history of diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus
* Women with a history of high blood pressure prior to becoming pregnant
* Women who become pregnant when beyond the age of 40
* Obese or overweight women
Some studies show that women who seem pre-disposed to high blood pressure while pregnant could be candidates for developing high blood pressure related diseases when they are middle aged or older. So there are many more reasons than pregnancy to have your blood pressure tested out! Try it once a year–it doesn’t hurt or take more than a few minutes, so what have you got to lose!
Filed under: Pregnancy