Preeclampsia: Why pregnant women should not ignore spike in blood pressure

Preeclampsia, a sudden spike in blood pressure after 20th week of pregnancy, can lead to several complications like preterm birth or cardiovascular disease and can be fatal for the pregnant woman and the child. This is the reason monitoring of blood pressure becomes all the more crucial when you are expecting.

Covid-19 also seems to predispose pregnant women to a greater risk of developing Preeclampsia due to its pro-inflammatory states.

According to American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women with SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy had 62% higher odds of developing Preeclampsia than those without the infection during pregnancy. The report also mentioned that both asymptomatic and symptomatic infection significantly increased the risk of preeclampsia.

ALSO READ: Covid-19 in 3rd trimester of pregnancy: A look at adverse complications

Dr Sonal Kumta, Senior Consultant, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund tells us more about this condition in pregnant women, its symptoms and the precautions they need to take.

Symptoms of Preeclampsia

The warning signs of preeclampsia include elevated blood pressure, headaches, swelling in the face and feet, blurred vision, chest pain and shortness of breath. It can affect the liver, kidneys and brain. Some pregnant women develop seizures (Eclampsia) and suffer Intracranial Hemorrhage, which could be the main cause of death at times.

“A blood pressure reading in excess of 140/90 mm Hg is abnormal in pregnancy. To diagnose preeclampsia, you have to have high blood pressure and one or more of the complications like protein in your urine, a low platelet count, impaired liver functions, signs of kidney problems, fluid in lungs, new-onset headaches or visual disturbances, after the 20th week of pregnancy,” says Dr Kumta.

Once you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, you will need more frequent blood tests, ultrasounds and non-stress tests than would be expected in an uncomplicated pregnancy.

Precautions for pregnant women with preeclampsia as per Dr Kumta:

First of all, pregnant women should take precautions to protect themselves from getting the Covid-19 infection.

Ensure you are physical distancing, wearing a mask, handwashing and staying in close communication with your provider.

Moreover, pregnant women should be encouraged to get Covid-19 vaccine as vaccination protects them from severe illness, hospitalization, ICU admission and a poor perinatal outcomes, as compared to those unvaccinated.

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