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Hypertension during pregnancy is on the rise in India

May 17, 2021

Bina (name changed), a 32 year old, software professional from the city was detected with high blood pressure during the 24th week of her pregnancy. The patient was not regular in her check-up due to pressure of work. However, in her 24th week when she came for a check up, her blood pressure was recorded as 180/120 mm Hg. This posed a high risk of complications both for the mother and baby. She was admitted and treated rigorously but the doctor found signs of impending seizures and she lost her baby. Shilpa was suffering from pregnancy induced hypertension, which is becoming common in young mothers.

Gynaecologists are of the opinion that pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) is one of the major concerns during pregnancy among Indian women. “At least 15 per cent of women in India are detected with pregnancy induced hypertension,” said Dr. Jyothi Shenoy, Consultant Gynaecologist, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital – Yeshwanthpur.

Who is at risk?

It is seen in those whose mothers or sisters had PIH are more likely to develop PIH. Women carrying multiple foetuses are also at risk and this is becoming common due to many couples seeking assisted reproductive techniques to conceive. Couples nowadays postpone starting a family, thereby increasing the risk of PIH which is commoner in elderly mothers > 35 years. It is seen in mothers who had PIH during the previous pregnancy.

With late pregnancy becoming the norm and assisted fertilisation also becoming common leading to multiple fetuses pregnancy induced hypertension is on the rise.

PIH is a condition where the high blood pressure occurs for the first time half way through pregnancy and in majority of cases returns to normal within a few weeks of delivery. Such women are at increased risk of developing hypertension later on in life. In such pregnancies, the increased BP may be accompanied by swelling of the feet.

Usually even before the rise in BP is detected the mother tends to gain weight more than normal, due to water retention. If unchecked the mother and baby are at risk. The chances of the mother losing the baby is high. In some cases, the mother may develop severe headache, blurring of vision and pain in the upper abdomen, which are warning signs that the patient is likely to develop seizures, a condition called eclampsia. In such cases both mother and baby are at risk of death.

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy says, coming regularly to your doctor from the time a couple decides to get pregnant is advisable. Regular monitoring during pregnancy, along with a few tests at regular periodicity as advised, following a diet schedule, getting adequate rest and exercise and not smoking or drinking alcohol are some factors that help mothers have a healthy baby and be healthy themselves.

In severe cases, we may have to admit the patient for a few days. In some cases we keep the patient under strict monitoring in hospital till delivery to avoid complications including death, says Dr. Jyothi Shenoy.

Our aim ultimately is to have a healthy mother and baby at the end of pregnancy

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