Gestational Hypertension: Causes, Symptoms, And Diagnosis

Posted on: 12 January 2022

Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy. It typically begins in the latter part of the pregnancy and then resolves after the baby is born. It is essential to keep all of your prenatal care appointments so that gestational hypertension can be recognized and managed in its early stages. Here are some causes and symptoms of gestational hypertension and how it is diagnosed. 

Causes And Symptoms

While the exact causes of gestational hypertension are unknown, certain factors can raise your risk. These include having had hypertension prior to becoming pregnant, smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity. Also, if you had gestational hypertension with a previous pregnancy, it may be more likely to occur in subsequent pregnancies. Certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes and renal disease may also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Symptoms of gestational hypertension may include visual disturbances, swelling of your face, fingers, ankles, and feet, producing scanty amounts of urine, and sudden or rapid weight gain. You may also develop nausea and vomiting, which may be mistaken for "morning sickness," and because of this, you will need to see your healthcare provider, especially if you experience these symptoms later in your pregnancy. Morning sickness typically develops in early pregnancy and resolves after a few months. 

Diagnosing Gestational Hypertension

Your healthcare provider will take your blood pressure during your prenatal care office visits to check for hypertension. If accompanied by any of the above symptoms, then they may pursue further testing to rule out gestational hypertension. Your physician will also check your ankles for edema, especially pitting edema, which is a type of swelling that causes the formation of a pit or indentation in your soft tissue after pressing it for a second or so with a finger. If the indentation does not go away after a few seconds, you may have pitting edema.

To further confirm or rule out gestational hypertension, your doctor may recommend more frequent blood pressure checks and weight monitoring. Urine testing may also be recommended to assess for proteinuria, also called protein in the urine. This may be an indication of kidney problems that can be associated with gestational hypertension. 

If you are pregnant, see your healthcare provider regularly for your prenatal care checkups. When doing so, conditions such as gestational hypertension can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible so that you can enjoy a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy newborn. 

For more information on prenatal care, contact a professional near you.