Treating High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

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Pre-eclampsia, a form of high blood pressure brought on by pregnancy, is one of the leading causes of death during pregnancy (both of expectant mothers and babies). Little is known regarding the exact causes of pre-eclampsia.

A recent study conducted by the Lerner Research Institute suggests that women who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy have a deficiency in the enzyme corin. Corin is found in both the heart and uterus.

At this point, the research hasn’t led to any new treatments for pre-eclampsia. It is hoped that the information learned will allow doctors to test for corin levels and better predict which pregnancies are more likely to involve high blood pressure.

Common treatments for high blood pressure during pregnancy include:

  • Bed rest. Sometimes doctors will suggest a specific position (such as raised feet). The benefits of complete bed rest for pre-eclampsia have recently come under question. Health care professionals disagree regarding whether this is generally the best treatment option.
  • Restricted activity. Doctors will particularly want you to restrict high stress activities.
  • Medication. Some blood pressure medications can’t be used by pregnant women due to risks to your unborn baby. Blood pressure medications typically prescribed for pre-eclampsia include hydralazine, methyldopa, nifedipine, and labetatol.
  • Diet. Your doctor or nutritionist may suggest changes to your diet, particularly adding fruits and vegetables and reducing sodium.
  • Massage. Recent studies have supported the theory that massage helps to reduce blood pressure.
  • Herbal remedies. Herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort are believed to help control blood pressure. As with any dietary/nutritional supplements, check with your doctor before taking herbal blood pressure remedies while you are pregnant.
  • Eliminating or reducing caffeine intake. Most pregnant women can get away with one cup of coffee/day, but those with pre-eclampsia should consider giving up caffeine altogether.
  • Reducing stress. It isn’t known what part stress plays in pre-eclampsia, per se, but stress is known to aggravate high blood pressure in general.

In most cases, pregnancy induced high blood pressure will go away after your baby is born.

It’s always important to keep your doctor informed of any changes in your health while you are pregnant. It’s especially important if you are dealing with pre-eclampsia.

What have you tried to keep pregnancy induced high blood pressure under control?




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