Pregnancy and Chronic High Blood Pressure

Overview

Some people have high blood pressure before they get pregnant (chronic hypertension). Some have very high blood pressure that starts in the second or third trimester (gestational hypertension). High blood pressure can limit the baby's growth and cause other serious problems. Sometimes it's a first sign of a serious problem called preeclampsia.

High blood pressure usually doesn't cause symptoms. You will probably feel fine, even if your blood pressure is too high. You may not know you have high blood pressure. That's why it's important to go to all of your prenatal checkups and get your blood pressure checked.

If you have chronic high blood pressure, you'll need special medical care before, during, and after pregnancy. You'll have frequent blood pressure checks, blood tests, and urine screening tests. They are done to watch for signs of preeclampsia.

You may need little or no blood pressure medicine while you're pregnant. Blood pressure usually falls during early pregnancy. Medicine often isn't needed unless blood pressure rises to higher levels.

Some common blood pressure medicines aren't safe during pregnancy. If you take blood pressure medicine:

  • Talk to your doctor about the safety of your medicine. Do this before you become pregnant or as soon as you learn you're pregnant.
  • Be sure that your doctor has a complete list of the medicines you take.

To reduce your risk for preeclampsia, your doctor may recommend that you take low-dose aspirin during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 23, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
William Gilbert MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine

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