Treatment of Hypertension in Pregnancy

Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) is a form of high blood pressure in pregnancy. It occurs in about 5 % to 8 % of all pregnancies. Another type of high blood pressure is chronic hypertension – high blood pressure that is present before pregnancy begins.

Pregnancy-induced hypertension is also called toxemia or pre-eclampsia. It occurs most often in young women with a first pregnancy. It is more common in twin pregnancies, in women with chronic hypertension, preexisting diabetes, and in women who had Treatment of hypertension in pregnancy in a previous pregnancy.

Treatment of hypertension in pregnancy

Specific treatment for pregnancy-induced hypertension will be determined by your physician based on:

– Your pregnancy, overall health, and medical history
– Extent of the disease
– Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
– Expectations for the course of the disease
– Your opinion or preference

The goal of treatment is to prevent the condition from becoming worse and to prevent it from causing other complications. Treatment of hypertension in pregnancy may include:

– Bed rest (either at home or in the hospital may be recommended)
– Hospitalization (as specialized personnel and equipment may be necessary)
– Magnesium sulfate (or other antihypertensive medications for PIH)
– Fetal monitoring (to check the health of the fetus when the mother has PIH) may include:
– Fetal movement counting – keeping track of fetal kicks and movements. A change in the number or frequency may mean the fetus is under stress.
– Non- stress testing – a test that measures the fetal heart rate in response to the fetus’ movements.
– Biophysical profile – a test that combines non- stress test with ultrasound to observe the fetus.
– Doppler flow studies – type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through a blood vessel.
– continued laboratory testing of urine and blood (for changes that may signal worsening of PIH)
– Medications, called corticosteroids, that may help mature the lungs of the fetus (lung immaturity is a major problem of premature babies)
– Delivery of the baby (if treatments do not control PIH or if the fetus or mother is in danger). Cesarean delivery may be recommended, in some cases.

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