Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH): Symptoms, Risks, And Treatment

High blood pressure is a general problem during pregnancy. It is also known as a hypertensive disorder; it happens when the blood in your blood vessels moves with higher pressure than normal.

Hypertensive disorders have different types. Pregnancy-induced hypertension affects 5% to 8% of a pregnant female. Therefore, if you are diagnosed with PIH, or see having it, then keep reading the below information.

What is hypertension (high blood pressure)?

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Blood pressure is the high force of blood in the blood vessel walls. The heart pumps extra blood into the arteries that carry the blood from the body. High blood pressure, also described as hypertension refers to the pressure in the arteries that is more than the normal range.


Different Type Of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High blood pressure presents itself in different ways during pregnancy. They differ in severity and affect the body.


Chronic hypertension

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It is the high blood pressure that happens before the 20th week, it presents before conception, it continues even after delivery. In some cases, you will not even understand you had suffered from high blood pressure until your first prenatal check-up.


Gestational hypertension

It happens after the 20th week of pregnancy and gets normal after delivery. It will not show any related symptoms.


Both gestational and chronic hypertension, if left untreated, can cause preeclampsia. It releases more protein in the urine and leads to complications for both baby and mother if timely medical intervention is not sought.

What Is Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension?

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Pregnancy-induced hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that is also called gestational hypertension. If left untreated, it could lead to toxemia or preeclampsia. It grows after the 20the week of pregnancy and causes a problem in baby and mother if not treated on time. Some necessary aspects of pregnancy-induced hypertension are:

The blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg

Swelling (edema)

Protein is found in the urine

Get normal within 6-weeks after delivery

PIH could happen in any woman with pregnancy, but some risk factors raise the chances of getting it.


Causes And Risks of Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension

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The exact cause of pregnancy-induced hypertension is not known, this risk is higher in those with the below factors:

  • First-time pregnancy
  • Twins or Multiple pregnancies
  • Family history of PIH
  • The female age is under 20 or above 40
  • Hypertension or kidney disorder before pregnancy
  • Diabetes

If you are experiencing any of the above risks or see that your blood pressure is fluctuating, then check the symptoms of gestational hypertension.


Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension: Symptoms

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You may get the following signs that are common with high blood pressure:

  • Sudden weight gain
  • Diastolic BP of more than 90
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Extra sweating on the palms and soles
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Buzzing sound in the ears
  • Stomach pain
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Systolic blood pressure of excess than 140
  • Visual changes like blurred vision or double vision

Your blood pressure is checked during regular check-ups because high blood pressure causes certain risks for the baby and mother.


Risks Of Pregnancy Induced Hypertension to The Mother and The Baby

With high blood pressure, there is also a rise in the resistance of the blood vessels. It could stop the blood flow to different organs, including kidneys, brain, liver, placenta, and uterus. When the placenta does not get enough blood, the fetus gets less food and oxygen. It can cause low birth weight and other developmental problems.

Other complications include:

  • Eclampsia is high BP accompanied by seizures
  • Placental abruption (initial detachment between placenta and uterus)
  • Intrauterine growth restraint (poor fetal growth)
  • Premature delivery
  • Stillbirth

Pregnancy-induced hypertension could be detected initial days if you get normal prenatal check-ups. Early diagnosis means early problem treatment.


Who is at higher risk of increasing high blood pressure (hypertension) during pregnancy?

A woman is more likely to increase high blood pressure during pregnancy if she:

is under age of 20 or overage of 40

Has a chronic hypertension history before getting pregnant

Experienced gestation preeclampsia or hypertension during past pregnancies


gestational hypertension family history

Has gestational diabetes or diabetes

Expecting multiple babies

kidney disease

Had in vitro fertilization

Is African American


Diagnosis Of Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension

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The blood pressure is diagnosed at every visit to the doctor during pregnancy. An abnormal increase can be indicative of pregnancy-induced hypertension. If your blood pressure becomes high in 2-3 consecutive monthly check-ups, your doctor will ask you to take a urine test to identify any protein content in the urine.

During the hospital visits, your physician will monitor and record your blood pressure, urine protein, and weight gain for further reference. If you continue to get other symptoms or are abnormally fatigued of pregnancy-induced hypertension, the doctor will prescribe extra tests include:

Blood clotting tests

Assessment of edema

Eye tests for retinal changes check-up

Kidney and liver functioning tests

If pregnancy-induced hypertension is diagnosed or even suspected, the doctor will order a non-stress test to check your growing baby. Doctors commonly utilize an ultrasound transducer to record the heart rate of the baby.

This test also utilizes a toco transducer to see and record the uterine activity. When your baby is active, the fetal heart rate tends to rise. Therefore, these tests help map and know if your child is growing well.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension: Treatment

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Treatment for pregnancy-induced hypertension on the following findings:

Your pregnancy stage, overall health, and medical history.

The increase of the condition

Your tolerance to procedures, specific medications, and therapies

The primary goal of the treatment is to stop the condition from getting worse and leading to complications. Therefore, a combination of the following treatment options is recommended:

Bed rest, either at the home or hospital.

Monitor blood pressure levels

Monitor fetal health

Antihypertensive medications like magnesium sulphate

Fetal movements and kicks-a change in frequency shows the baby is under stress

Non-stress test that measures fetal heart rate in link to fetal movements

Biophysical profile, which is a combination of ultrasound and non-stress test to observe fetal growth, movements, and development

Doppler flow studies an ultrasound test that gives sound waves to measure fetal blood circulation.

Continued blood and urine tests to track abnormal changes

Corticosteroids to increase lung capacity in the baby

Delivery, if other treatments do not work and the fetus or mother is found to be at high risk.


Together, you should take self-care measures that help in managing hypertension:

Get enough rest, and lie over your left side to remove the pressure from the primary blood vessels.

This way, a higher amount of blood and nutrients are provided to the fetus.

  • Drink adequate water
  • Consume less salt
  • Go for normal prenatal check-ups

Since the cause of pregnancy-induced hypertension is not known, it cannot be avoided. But some of the factors leading to hypertension can be managed and controlled.


Prevention Of PIH

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You may try these simple steps:

Add more protein consumption and stop junk foods

Do low impact workout for about half an hour every day after talking with your doctor.

Keep a wedge or pillow underneath your feet while sleeping.

It boosts blood circulation to the remaining body.

Consume healthy to manage steady weight gain

Get your BP levels checked normally

Reduce caffeine intake

Pregnancy induces hypertension is not a serious condition if detected and treated in time. It can be diagnosed easily from the regular prenatal check-ups during pregnancy.


Do regular check-ups every month, follow an active and healthy lifestyle, notice your symptoms if any get medical attention if anything unusual.

Pregnancy and high blood pressure are not necessarily harmful combinations. But having hypertension during pregnancy need special care because high blood pressure without diagnosis and treatment can harm.

During pregnancy, a female can suffer from a different form of high blood pressure, such as:

Gestational hypertension that increases after 20 weeks of pregnancy

Chronic hypertension that was found before pregnancy or that happen before 20 weeks of pregnancy

Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia that happens in a female with determining high blood pressure before pregnancy Preeclampsia, which is a pregnancy complication featured by high blood pressure and signs of damage to different organ system

High blood pressure during pregnancy put extra stress on the kidneys and heart. It may increase the heart disease risk, kidney and strokes risk.

Along with these, other complications may have restricted fetal growth, placental abruption, preterm delivery, and caesarean delivery.

When experiencing hypertension during pregnancy, it is necessary to monitor your blood pressure level in whole pregnancy time. Managing your blood pressure can help with healthy pregnancy and baby.


Ways to Manage High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Avoid Haigh Salt Foods

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Commonly, anyone experiencing high blood pressure should lower salt. Limiting salt helps to lower blood pressure rising. During pregnancy, you must keep a check on salt consumption to manage your blood pressure under control.

Do not include more salt foods while cooking. Utilize spices and herbs instead to increase flavor in the dish. Skip processed foods, sports drinks, fast food, which consist of high sodium.

Skip canned foods as they provide high sodium.


Eat Whole Grains and Potassium-Rich Foods

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Choose foods like banana, raisins, prunes, kidney beans, and tomato because these all food contain high potassium. According to study whole grains provide dietary fiber and lower hypertension. Therefore, fuel up on vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and protein. For example, for breakfast, you could eat whole-grain toast and mixed veggies Omelette, and a side of fruits.

Try Controlled Breathing

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Deep breathing is a famous relaxation technique that helps to reduce stress levels and balance blood pressure. Furthermore, every time you try a deep breath, the blood with good oxygen gets delivered to every cell in the body. In turn, it offers energy and makes you feel good.

Lie down comfortably over your back.

Keep hands over the chest and under the rib cage.

Gently inhale from the nose so that you feel moving in your stomach.

Slowly breathe out from mouth by counting to 5, as keeping the abdominal muscles tight.

Do this 10-times and balance your breathing slow and regularly.

Practice deep breathing for 10 minutes, 2, or 3 times a day to manage your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.



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Whether you are pregnant or not, more stress can increase blood pressure. Therefore, try removing things that induce anxiety and do what you can to boost relaxation. Doing yoga, meditation, or breathing method help. All these gradually help to cope with labor pain.


Get Moving

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Less active females are more likely to increase high blood pressure. Therefore, adding a consistent physical routine that you can do from Pregnancy is necessary. It will relieve stress and boost blood circulation to lower high blood pressure. It will have a positive effect on the baby’s health. Therefore, try to do a light workout for 30 minutes every day. If you do not keep yourself active, try walking.


Avoid Smoking Or Alcohol

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Avoiding alcohol and smoking during pregnancy is important for the health and safety of the baby. Alcohol and cigarette smoking cause increase blood pressure. Therefore, talk to your physician if you are a regular smoker.


Listen to music

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Listening to soothing music for 30 minutes 2-3 times a day helps to lower high blood pressure. As a bonus, music can help to deal with anxiety and stress, which can complicate pregnancy. Stress is also not good for the unborn baby.

Low pitch and low tempo music, without loud instrumentation and lyrics, can calm down people, even during high-stress times.

Listening to soothing and soft music during pregnancy also helps to create an amazing bonding experience for mother and baby.

Additionally, it increases the stimulation of the unborn baby’s brain and improves patterns of sleep for the new-born baby.


Monitor Your Weight

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Being overweight is a risk factor for hypertension and thus, you need to practice caution to manage pregnancy weight. A proper diet and regular activity help to manage a healthy weight during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is linked with weight gain and hypertension during pregnancy, so it is necessary to avoid weight gain. Preeclampsia can cause liver and kidney problems for the baby and mother.

Being overweight also raise the risk of other health conditions during pregnancy, such as back pain, leg cramps, exhaustion, gestational diabetes hemorrhoids, heartburn, and joint pain.

Through a healthy diet and a good workout routine, you can get to a healthy weight. Talk with your doctor about the weight that is right for you and follow the doctor’s instructions.


Follow Medication Protocol

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If you are advised to take any medicine, it is necessary to manage the schedule and note medicine. Also, hypertension can be a side effect of any medicine. Therefore, talk with your physician to keep pregnancy safe.

Additional Tips

Get early and your common medical care. If your physician needs medicine to hold your blood pressure under control, make sure to take it as prescribed.

Those who are at high risk for preeclampsia may have to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. It will be advised by your doctor. Do not stop consuming any medicine without your physician.

Drinking and smoking put stress over the cardiovascular system.

It is also harmful to your baby’s health. Avoid smoking and drinking during your pregnancy.

Skip caffeine during pregnancy, as it has been shown to lower placental blood flow and cause miscarriage.


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