Risk Factors For Pregnancy Hypertension
Certain risk factors for developing hypertension can’t be changed, like age or race. For example, women older than 40 or younger than 20 have a higher risk of developing hypertension during pregnancy; the same goes for African-American women. .
Other risk factors include being overweight, not exercising, eating poorly, carrying multiple children, dealing with chronic diseases like diabetes or lupus, having high blood pressure before pregnancy, and having had preeclampsia or hypertension during previous pregnancies.
How to Prevent Pregnancy Hypertension
Know your blood pressure level before getting pregnant. Make an appointment for a checkup with your primary care doctor or ob-gyn and make a note of your blood pressure. You can also stop by a health fair for a free evaluation, or check you blood pressure at a pharmacy that has a self-service machine.
Kick the salt habit. High salt, or sodium, intake can raise blood pressure. If you typically sprinkle salt on every dish, now is the time to break the habit. Most adults should keep salt intake to 1 teaspoon per day — that includes what comes out of the shaker as well as the hidden sodium in processed foods.
Get off the couch. Get up and get moving before you conceive. If you’re already pregnant, ask your doctor about starting a regular exercise program. Sedentary women are likely to gain weight, which can increase the risk of hypertension during pregnancy, as well as before and after. Try to start your pregnancy at a healthy body weight.
Pay attention to medication. Make sure you aren't taking medication that can raise blood pressure levels — check with your doctor to see what's safe. You may not realize that popping a decongestant, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed and others), for something minor like a stuffy nose can cause an increase in blood pressure. Think twice about using any medication unless your doctor approves.If you already have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about medication use before and during pregnancy. It is very important to have your blood pressure under control and stable before becoming pregnant, as those nine months are not the best time to try new or additional medication. Work with your doctor to make sure that you are taking a medication that will be safe to continue during pregnancy.
Get regular prenatal checkups. If your blood pressure starts to rise during pregnancy, you want to catch it early. Make sure to keep all appointments and consider buying a home blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure more frequently.
Don't smoke or drink alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol aren't safe for your unborn child and will do no favors for your blood pressure.
While you should stay vigilant about your health and the health of your growing baby, remember to enjoy this special time. Taking these precautions can prevent hypertension during pregnancy and allow you to relax.