(WTAJ) — Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure. Even more concerning, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are on the rise.
According to Doctor Tosin Goje of the Cleveland Clinic, there are three types of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy that are most common.
“We have chronic hypertension. This is a woman who was given a diagnosis of hypertension even when she was not pregnant, or who was diagnosed with hypertension before the 20 week of pregnancy. That is chronic hypertension,” Goje said. “Then we have gestational hypertension, as the word gestation, this is hypertension after 20 weeks of pregnancy. And this can now continue from gestational hypertension to become what we call Preeclampsia.”
The CDC reports high blood pressure is seen in one in every 12 to 17 pregnancies among women ages 20 to 44 in the United States. Preeclampsia occurs in around one in 25 pregnancies.
Doctor Goje said Preeclampsia is the more severe type of hypertension in pregnancy and can potentially impact organ function and the placenta. To avoid complications, she stresses women must be screened for high blood pressure before, during and after pregnancy.
Doctor Goje explains those over the age of 40 have an increased risk of developing hypertensive disorders during pregnancy, as well as those with diabetes, immune system disorders like lupus or women who went through in vitro fertilization. She notes black women are also at an increased risk.
So, how can a woman lower her risk for high blood pressure?
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“Exercise, healthy diet, staying active, trying to be very intentional with your diet. I tell patients you’re not fasting or starving but you’re taking more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, taking your long walks. Trying to reduce stress,” Goje said. “Stress has been known to complicate a lot of maternal morbidity, especially in Black women.”
Doctor Goje said it’s important to take measures before pregnancy to control blood pressure levels and decrease the risk of complications.