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What Causes High Blood Pressure After Giving Birth

High Blood Pressure Medication

How to reduce blood pressure naturally and avoid preeclampsia – free and immediate results

Don’t beat yourself up if lifestyle changes alone don’t get your blood pressure down to where it should be, Laffin says.

“Lifestyle changes only go so far, especially if your blood pressure is extremely high,” he says. “After a one- to three-month trial of lifestyle modifications, your doctor may consider adding medication, especially if you have other risk factors for heart disease or a family history of heart disease.”

There are many types of medication that can be used alone or in combination to treat high blood pressure. Each has risks and benefits that must be discussed with your doctor based on your health status. In general, side effects of blood pressure medicines may include cough, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, fatigue, and/or headache.

Common blood pressure-lowering medications include:

Treatment Is Recommended If High Blood Pressure Is Present Persistently 1

A woman with postpartum hypertension who is asymptomatic with a blood pressure of less than 160/110 mm Hg can be treated as an outpatient with drugs taken orally . All women with postpartum hypertension should be examined for HELLP syndrome and other end-organ effects by using tests for total blood count, levels of creatinine and liver enzymes, and urinalysis. Drug dosage can be titrated down once blood pressure is less than 140/90 mm Hg for at least 48 hours.

How To Prevent High Blood Pressure In Babies

Prevention of blood pressure in infants is all about dealing with the causes. Here is what parents do to prevent the onset of high blood pressure in babies:

  • Stay alert and observant: While blood pressure does not cause any notable symptoms, the underlying causes may. Be vigilant to any such signs early on to manage hypertension in babies better.
  • Be regular with doctor checkups: Regular checkups help in early detection of high blood pressure. If you suspect something wrong with the baby, then do not hesitate to tell the doctor about it.
  • Maintain a balanced diet: Create a balanced diet for the baby or toddler who has started solids. Provide healthy, home-cooked meals and avoid foods with a lot of salt and fat. Instead, focus on a meal plan that includes all the nutrients in the right quantity. Consult a pediatric dietitian if in doubt to get a customized meal plan for your child.
  • Next, we answer a few commonly asked questions about high blood pressure in babies.

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    High Blood Pressure: Pregnant And Postpartum Women Face Hidden Danger

    April 23, 2020 By Charlotte E. Warren& Pooja Sripad

    One-third of all maternal deaths can be traced to high blood pressure in pregnancy and in the weeks after giving birth. Yet many women dont know how dangerous high blood pressure can be. And they may not realize they are at risk for many life-threatening conditions such as pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Because high blood pressure can be asymptomatic, women with hypertension may not feel unwell or even know that their health is compromised.

    This article is part of the Maternal Health Initiatives CODE BLUE series, developed in partnership with EMD Serono, a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Every year, 18 million women of reproductive age die from non-communicable diseases which poses a growing and often overlooked challenge to global maternal health. The CODE BLUE series aims to bring to light and explore these issues.

    One-third of all maternal deaths can be traced to high blood pressure in pregnancy and in the weeks after giving birth. Yet many women dont know how dangerous high blood pressure can be. And they may not realize they are at risk for many life-threatening conditions such as pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Because high blood pressure can be asymptomatic, women with hypertension may not feel unwell or even know that their health is compromised.

    Risks Of High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy

    Study: Women should know high blood pressure symptoms ...

    For mom

    High blood pressure during pregnancy puts you at risk of:

    • Stroke

    • Heart attacks

    • Breathing problems

    • Fluid in other parts of your body It can also put you at risk of a serious complication called placental abruption and complications when giving birth.

    For baby

    High blood pressure can also affect your unborn babys growth and health. When the moms blood pressure runs high, this affects how much oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the growing baby. Unborn babies affected by high maternal blood pressure are more likely to be born preterm and underweight.

    For the birth

    Pregnancy-induced hypertension raises your risk of having an early delivery or a C-section.

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    Treating High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy

    Is treatment necessary?

    Your healthcare provider wont always recommend medications for high blood pressure during pregnancy.

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women with severe high blood pressure take medication to lower their blood pressure. Severe high blood pressure is when the systolic blood pressure is 160 or higher and/or the diastolic BP is 110 or higher. Between 140-159 systolic, and 90-109 diastolic, the science is less clear. If you have symptoms like headache and blurred vision you might need treatment.

    Are blood pressure medications safe during pregnancy?

    This is the million dollar question. All blood pressure-lowering medications cross the placenta and get into your babys bloodstream. But, not treating high blood pressure in pregnancy can have harmful results for mom and baby.

    The concern with treating high blood pressure in pregnancy is that lowering blood pressure too quickly, and the medications themselves, can cause low birth weight. But large studies have not shown consistently whether or not this is a real concern.

    Healthcare professionals are also not sure whether treating high blood pressure in pregnancy actually lowers risk of birth complications, stroke, or preeclampsia. The results of the 2018 Cochrane review and the 2017 meta-analysis show that treating high blood pressure in pregnancy lowers the risk of severe high blood pressure, but does not lower the risk of birth complications or preeclampsia.

    How Do We Reduce The Risk

    Patient education and empowerment are cornerstones of our program. Women need to understand that any patient with a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy is at risk for developing severe hypertension in the postpartum period.

    Two ways you can help reduce your risks include visiting the doctor prior to the six-week checkup and monitoring your blood pressure at home.

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    Are There Things That Put Me At Greater Risk For Postpartum Preeclampsia

    We dont know exactly what causes postpartum preeclampsia, but these may be possible risk factors:

    • You had gestational hypertension or preeclampsia during pregnancy. Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy and goes away after you give birth.
    • Youre obese.

    What Are The Complications Associated With Postpartum Preeclampsia

    High blood pressure during pregnancy

    The risk of complications for women with postpartum preeclampsia may be more serious than those for women whose preeclampsia appeared during pregnancy. Regardless of when the disorder appeared, its important to tell your doctor if youre experiencing any of the above symptoms.

    If left untreated, some of the complications include:

    • Postpartum eclampsia, a serious medical condition that results in seizures and can cause organ damage.
    • Pulmonary edema, or a build-up of fluid in the lungs.
    • HELLP syndrome, a rare but serious liver and blood-clotting disorder. HELLP stands for hemolysis , elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count .
    • Stroke, which interrupts blood flow to the brain.

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    High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy

    Young women in their childbearing years can have high blood pressure before becoming pregnant. This is called chronic hypertension. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have high blood pressure and youre hoping to get pregnant. If youre already taking blood pressure medications, youll want to be sure that they are safe for you and your unborn baby.

    Some women with normal blood pressure before pregnancy or during early pregnancy get high blood pressure in the second half of pregnancy. This is pregnancy-induced hypertension.

    Whether you have high blood pressure or not, it will be measured at every pregnancy check-up. If your blood pressure was normal early on but then goes above 140/90 on two separate readings, then you have pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Either the top number or the bottom number can be high. It doesn’t have to be both. For example, 148/82 would be high, but so would 136/96.

    Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure usually goes away after you give birth, but it can cause problems for mom and unborn baby up until after the baby is born. Some women will also be more at risk of having high blood pressure after their pregnancy than they would have been before.

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    Substance abuse and addiction create an array of negative health effects, illness, and disease, many of which, such as hypertension, hold the potential to be deadly. If youre just beginning to abuse drugs, and would like information or support to aid you in quitting, let us help you. If youve found yourself already lost within addiction, we have countless resources to support you in finding sobriety.

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    How Do We Treat It

    ACOG guidelines for preeclampsia recommend IV medication treatment that begins within 30 to 60 minutes of confirmed severe, acute hypertension. The goal is to lower the patient’s blood pressure to between 140/90 and 150/100 to prevent prolonged exposure to severely high blood pressure.

    During this time, the care team will frequently check your blood pressure and monitor the baby for signs of distress, such as changes in fetal activity or heart rate. The only way to “cure” preeclampsia is to deliver the baby often, patients with preeclampsia must deliver early to prevent the mother from having a potentially deadly stroke or seizure.

    Emergencypostpartum hypertension may also be treated with IV therapy or oral medication. In some cases, the doctor may recommend magnesium therapy to prevent preeclampsia-induced seizures. Patients who go to their local doctor’s office with very high postpartum blood pressure should be transferred to a hospital for treatment and monitoring.

    Chronic hypertension, while not usually an emergency, is a long-term health risk that must be controlled. Most patients can achieve a healthy blood pressure through a combination of medication, exercise, and diet changes. Increasing exercise and reducing sodium are two key factors in getting blood pressure to a healthier level.

    High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

    What is postpartum preeclampsia and how do you manage it ...

    Some women have high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can put the mother and her baby at risk for problems during the pregnancy. High blood pressure can also cause problems during and after delivery.1,2 The good news is that high blood pressure is preventable and treatable.

    High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is very common. In the United States, high blood pressure happens in 1 in every 12 to 17 pregnancies among women ages 20 to 44.3

    High blood pressure in pregnancy has become more common. However, with good blood pressure control, you and your baby are more likely to stay healthy.

    The most important thing to do is talk with your health care team about any blood pressure problems so you can get the right treatment and control your blood pressurebefore you get pregnant. Getting treatment for high blood pressure is important before, during, and after pregnancy.

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    You Have High Blood Pressure Now What

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    If you have high blood pressure, lifestyle changes are in order, says Luke Laffin, cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. This starts with eating a heart-healthy diet that is low in salt, engaging in regular physical activity, and losing weight if necessary.


    Many heart doctors recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan, which is designed to lower blood pressure. In addition to limiting sodium, it also calls for cutting back on red meat and added sugar.


    Exercise is also important. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. All exercise is good, of course, but moderate aerobic activitylike brisk walking, jogging, or using an elliptical traineris best for lowering blood pressure, says Laffin.


    “Losing weight is one of the best things you can do for high blood pressure, and the more weight you lose, the greater the decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure,” says Farbaniec.

    Other lifestyle changes

    “Smoking is the biggest risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack,” he adds. If you smoke, quit.

    As for alcohol, moderation is key, says Farbaniec. This means no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one a day for women.

    What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure Before During Or After Pregnancy

    Before Pregnancy

    • Make a plan for pregnancy and talk with your doctor or health care team about the following:
    • Any health problems you have or had and any medicines you are taking. If you are planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor.7 Your doctor or health care team can help you find medicines that are safe to take during pregnancy.
    • Ways to keep a healthy weight through healthy eating and regular physical activity.1,7

    During Pregnancy

    • Get early and regular prenatal careexternal icon. Go to every appointment with your doctor or health care professional.
    • Talk to your doctor about any medicines you take and which ones are safe. Do not stop or start taking any type of medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, without first talking with your doctor.7
    • Keep track of your blood pressure at home with a home blood pressure monitorexternal icon. Contact your doctor if your blood pressure is higher than usual or if you have symptoms of preeclampsia. Talk to your doctor or insurance company about getting a home monitor.
    • Continue to choose healthy foods and keep a healthy weight.8

    After Pregnancy

    • Pay attention to how you feel after you give birth. If you had high blood pressure during pregnancy, you have a higher risk for stroke and other problems after delivery. Tell your doctor or call 9-1-1 right away if you have symptoms of preeclampsia after delivery. You might need emergency medical care.9,10

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    High Blood Pressure Symptoms

    While high blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms, some people may experience headaches, nose bleeds, and anxiety when their numbers are high, Laffin says. “We have to really tease out if it’s a symptom causing blood pressure elevation or blood pressure elevation causing symptoms,” he says.

    For example, “a headache can raise your blood pressure because your body responds to pain by elevating blood pressure,” he says. High blood pressure can also cause a headache.

    Some symptoms such as chest pain, back pain, or vision changes, when they occur with a blood pressure of 180/120 mm Hg or higher, may point to a hypertensive emergency. These are signs of end-organ damage and you should call 911 or get to the emergency room immediately, the American Heart Association warns.

    A high blood pressure crisis may cause other symptoms too, including:

    • Severe headache

    High Blood Pressure Risks

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    Advancing age and a family history of heart disease increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. Other risks include eating an unhealthy diet that contains lots of salt, not exercising regularly, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol.

    Obesity and diabetes also raise your risk of developing high blood pressure.

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    How Birth Control Pills Affect Risk

    Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones. Combination birth control pills are made from estrogen and progestin. The mini-pill is a progestin-only contraceptive. These hormones are the reason that the pill works to prevent pregnancybut unfortunately, they can also increase your risk for high blood pressure.

    If you use the pill and are older than 35, obese, and/or smoke, you may be at even more risk. Birth control pills can increase your blood pressure from slightly to potentially dangerous.

    When using the pill, you may also have a slight increase in the risk of developing a blood clot. Sometimes, if your blood pressure becomes too high while using the pill, you may need to switch to a new birth control method.

    Onset Of Preeclampsia Can Be Postpartum

    About 5.7% of cases of preeclampsia or eclampsia may present de novo in the postpartum period , even without hypertension in pregnancy. These women often present with new-onset persistent headaches or visual changes. A high clinical index of suspicion is crucial . Women with preeclampsia or eclampsia should be referred immediately to hospital for treatment with magnesium sulfate , antihypertensive therapy and monitoring.

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    How Serious Is Postpartum Preeclampsia

    Postpartum preeclampsia definitely needs to be treated quickly.

    If not, it can lead to a variety of risky complications such as seizures, strokes, and a life-threatening liver disorder called HELLP. These can all have long-term effects on your organs, and may even lead to permanent damage to your brain, kidneys, and liver. In the worst-case scenario, untreated postpartum preeclampsia can lead to death.

    So, again, if you are having any of the symptoms listed above, please call your healthcare provider right away.

    What Are High Blood Pressure Complications During Pregnancy

    Chronic high blood pressure in pregnancy

    Complications from high blood pressure for the mother and infant can include the following:

    • For the mother:preeclampsiaexternal icon, eclampsiaexternal icon, stroke, the need for labor induction , and placental abruption .1,4,5
    • For the baby:preterm delivery and low birth weight .1,6 The mothers high blood pressure makes it more difficult for the baby to get enough oxygen and nutrients to grow, so the mother may have to deliver the baby early.

    Discuss blood pressure problems with your health care team before, during, and after pregnancy.

    Learn what to do if you have high blood pressure before, during, or after pregnancy.

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