Lifewatch: Pregnancy and high blood pressure

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - A new study suggests women who suffer high blood pressure during pregnancy may still have risks after the baby is born.

High blood pressure can cause serious problems like pre-eclampsia, which is a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy.  It can be life-threatening for both the mother and unborn baby.

Miranda Karadimas' second pregnancy is being watched carefully, because the first one was far from smooth.

"I haven't had problems with blood pressure before in my life until I was pregnant," said Miranda.  "It was really just when I came into the doctor and she checked my blood pressure and realized how high it was. She realized I needed to go into the hospital for observation."

A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics shows that pre-eclampsia can double the risk of a later heart attack or stroke.

"Up until now, we thought we'd cured pre-eclampsia once the baby is out and so the veil is being lifted," said Dr. Bea Kutzler.  "It's good to know that is a risk factor."

Dr. Kutzler says pre-eclampsia has a genetic component, and any woman who has it should have their doctor monitor them for heart disease, post pregnancy.

Symptoms of pre-eclampsia include sever swelling, headaches, and vision problems.