Hypertension in pregnancy

Andrea Ungar, Elena Lotti, Lorella Lambertucci

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7175/cmi.v1i1.615

Abstract

Hypertension is the most common medical problem encountered during pregnancy, complicating 2-3% of pregnancies. Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy are classified into 4 categories: chronic hypertension, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, pre-eclampsia superimposed on chronic hypertension, and gestational hypertension. A relative paucity of investigative data, as well as the frequent difficulty in making an etiological diagnosis, may lead to problems in its management. This case report analyses current concepts regarding the hypertensive disorders of gestation, focusing on chronic hypertension. Chronic hypertension is defined as blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mmHg before pregnancy or before 20 weeks gestation. Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy may cause maternal and fetal morbidity and remain a leading source of maternal mortality. A prompt diagnosis is needed also because hypertension may be an indicator of pre-eclampsia, a condition which can evolve into serious complications. Maintaining blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg is recommended, although treatment should be determined on an individual basis. Many anti-hypertensive agents appear to be safe for use during pregnancy: methildopa has been the most studied of the anti-hypertensive drugs and has the best safety record. Labetalol, idralazine and nifedipine also have been found to be safe; ACE-inhibitors are absolutely contraindicated, because they are associated with intrauterine growth retardation.

Keywords

Pre-eclampsia; Chronic hypertension in pregnancy; Pregnancy-induced hypertension

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