High blood pressure in pregnancy linked to family risk

High blood pressure in pregnancyPregnancy can cause changes to your health, like morning sickness for example. If a pregnant woman has high blood pressure, new research suggests this can contribute to deteriorated health in the future. Additionally, researchers have uncovered that siblings of pregnant women with high blood pressure also develop degenerated health down the road. Brothers, in particular, are at higher risk for heart disease.

Although the findings suggest women with high blood pressure while pregnant can experience health complications later in life, they did not determine the cause and effect of the association.


The long-term study involved over 900 brothers and 1,500 sisters in 954 sibling groups across America. Women with high blood pressure during pregnancy are at a 75 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure in their later years, this compared to pregnant women without high blood pressure.

Brothers and sisters were 24 percent and 15 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure in the future, compared with siblings that included pregnant women without high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is seen in about eight percent of pregnancies.

Different types of high blood pressure during pregnancy

Blood pressure is fairly simple to understand – it is the strength which blood pushes against blood vessels. In pregnant women there are different types of blood pressure dependant on the cause.

Gestational hypertension: develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. No excess protein in urine or other signs of organ damage. This can lead to preeclampsia.

Chronic hypertension: blood pressure which was present prior to the pregnancy. Can occur at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: blood pressure is present prior to pregnancy and worsens. Protein is present in urine or other health complications.

Preeclampsia: if untreated, complications may occur to the mother and/or baby. Can be caused by gestational hypertension and chronic hypertension.

Effects of high blood pressure in pregnancy

High blood pressure can be symptomless, so unless regularly checked, a pregnant woman may not even know she has high blood pressure. Many pregnant women with high blood pressure experience no complications with the pregnancy and can have healthy babies, but in some cases it can be quite serious.

Complications resulting from high blood pressure tend to occur in women who have chronic hypertension or high blood pressure prior to the pregnancy.


Possible effects of high blood pressure in pregnant women can be kidney damage or damage to other organs. If the hypertension progresses to preeclampsia the condition can be fatal for both mother and baby.

Tips to control blood pressure during pregnancyTips to control blood pressure

Even if you have never had high blood pressure prior to becoming pregnant, it can still occur. Here are some tips to better control blood pressure during pregnancy:

  • Limit salt intake
  • Partake in exercise
  • Lose weight if your are overweight – only with doctor’s guidance, never embark on intentional weight loss while pregnant unless supervised or advised
  • Speak to your doctor about medications – increase dosage, lower or switch medications
  • Get regular check-ups
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco

Although high blood pressure can occur during pregnancy, there are ways to keep your blood pressure in check and ensure a happy and safe pregnancy.



Related Reading:

Fluctuating blood pressure: Causes and treatments

Why is smoking harmful during pregnancy?

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