One of the most important factors in pregnancy is making sure that youíre regularly seeing a doctor to monitor your progress. Sometimes it may seem that itís all the same; getting weighed, giving a urine sample, checking your blood pressure and asking any questions you have but it really is all for a good reason. The doctors are there to make sure that things are progressing the way they are supposed to be every step of the way. When they check your blood pressure they are looking for any evidence that it may be getting off track. High blood pressure can signal problems that will need to be addressed to have a healthy pregnancy.
When they take your blood pressure they get a reading of two numbers. The top number is the systolic reading, which is the higher number. This number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number is your diastolic reading and is lower. This measures the pressure in your arteries in between heartbeats when the heart is refilling with blood. These numbers are measured in mm Hg or millimeters of mercury.
High blood pressure can cause many problems during pregnancy. It can cause a decreased blood flow to the placenta, placental abruption, premature delivery and can cause you to be at increased risk for future cardiovascular disease. They look at the numbers to determine whether your blood pressure is normal or high. Instead of just one threshold that determines high or low there are now different levels that determine if things are normal or steadily creeping to unhealthy. The levels are as follows:
Systolic (1st/top #) and Diastolic (2nd/bottom #)
Normal - less than 120 and Less than 80
Prehypertension - 120-139 and 80-80
High Stage 1 - 140-159 and 90-99
High Stage 2 - 160 or higher and 100 or higher
Hypertension Crisis - Higher than 180 and Higher than 110
When looking at your blood pressure one high reading may not be cause for alarm, but will make your doctor take a closer look. If it continues to stay high or other signs of complications come up they will continue to monitor you. Severe high blood pressure (higher than 160 mm Hg systolic or 100 mm Hg diastolic) can result in poor growth of your baby. Blood pressure at this level is likely to need to be treated. Your doctors will want to take a close look at your case and figure out the best course of action to take. Not all medication is safe to take while pregnant so they will want to make their decisions based on whatís best for you and your unborn child.
When blood pressure gets too high and is accompanied with protein in your urine it is a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia can be dangerous for mom and baby and needs to be taken care of.
The important thing to remember throughout this journey is that your doctors are there to help. One reading of high blood pressure is not always a sign of a problem and your doctor will help to make sure that you are taken care of and you and your baby are healthy.
Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Any attempt to diagnose or treat a condition should come under the direction of a qualified practitioner.