The pressure that is exerted on the vessels carrying the blood, from the heart to the organs, is defined as blood pressure. This exerted force over the walls of our blood vessels, by the flow of the blood, is not constant and keeps either increasing or decreasing based on our activities, like a morning jog in the park; dietary plans, too much use off salt or too little use of potassium; age and sometimes circumstantial factors like stress and anger etc.
There are three ranges of blood pressure that are categorized as:
- Hypotension: 90/60 mmHg
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: 120-129/less than 80
The numbers are used to indicate the pressure exerted on the blood vessel walls. The first number is a measure of the pressure when the heart beats, systolic blood pressure, and when the heart rests, diastolic blood pressure, it is represented by the second set of digits.
Although an elevated blood pressure is no good news, but the real bad news starts when the blood pressure ranges higher than that of said. It is a condition called hypertension and the ranges are:
- Stage 1 High Blood Pressure: 130-139/80-89 mmHg
- Stage 2 High Blood Pressure: 140 and above/90 mmHg and above
Causes of Hypertension
There are several reasons as to why the blood pressure increases including but not limited to:
- Elevated weight
- Physical inactivity
- High consumption of alcohol
Other factors include increase in age; as we age, we become more prone to abnormal blood pressure conditions; too much use of salt in diet plans; and genetics that can result in the condition in running among the members of a family or through their generations.
When hypertension is severe, there are several red flags to look out for. For instance, severe headaches and nosebleeds are common among the patients. In addition to pounding in the chest, neck, or ears, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, fatigue, and confusion are also signs that need to be addressed.
For women that are planning for pregnancy, it is crucial to address their hypertensive condition. When overseen, hypertension increases the risk of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality in the first trimester. Although there are several guidelines and research that focus on the treatment and control of the condition during pregnancy, not many have been directed towards control of hypertension before. It is therefore that a rise in the use of hypertension medications can be seen among pregnant women as compared to the previous years.
What is Known
Certain medications have been green lit to be used pre-conception and some not. For instance, methyldopa and labetalol are considered the first choices when it comes to the control of the condition before stepping into pregnancy; on the other hand, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) need to be avoided by a hypertensive woman planning for conception.
There is more than one reason as to why it is vital for planning women with chronic hypertension to make an assessment before making the move; it can diminish the chances of secondary causes of hypertension, provide an optimal circumstance for fetal conception, and address the increased risks of pre-eclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system).
What is Vague
The use of diuretics (medications that increase urination getting rid of water and salts) has been common before conception, although the idea has not been getting much back up in the scientific community recently. It is due to the uncertainty of the process of action of the medicine that makes it unreliable to use before pregnancy.
What You Can Do
There is no doubting the fact that prevention is better than cure; when it comes to hypertensive women planning for pregnancy, there are several paths that can be taken towards a less restrictive or medicated betterment. Achieving a body weight ideal for pregnancy can lower the risks of pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders. New research suggests women with chronic hypertension may either substitute or reduce the intake of sodium salts in their diets to better help their condition.
All in all, hypertension may seem like a condition that cannot be avoided; however, a healthy lifestyle is assuredly your first step towards a healthier one. The advances in pharmaceutical and medicinal sciences are rapid, but there are still areas around the relativity of high blood pressure treatment pre-conception that need to be explored. Until an affective alternative is presented, the best way of preparing for a healthy pregnancy is a healthy regime and, as always, expert advice.
- High Blood Pressure Symptoms, Causes, and Problems | cdc.gov. (2021, May 18). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm
- Lu, Y., Chen, R., Cai, J., Huang, Z., & Yuan, H. (2018). The management of hypertension in women planning for pregnancy. British Medical Bulletin, 128(1), 75–84. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldy035