3 out of 50 women become hypertensive during pregnancy: Experts

Date:29 September, 2016

Spokesperson: Dr Shantala Vadeyar, Group Medical Director, Fetal & Maternal Medicine, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals


Elevated blood pressure during pregnancy also puts the heart’s health at risk.

The leading causes of maternal mortality in India are haemorrhage, sepsis, abortions, hypertensive disorders, obstructed labour and medical conditions such as anaemia.1 While deaths from haemorrhage and infections have declined in recent years, there has been a rise in the number of deaths associated with hypertension during pregnancy. Although the reason why some women experience elevated blood pressure levels during pregnancy is not fully understood, hypertension remains one of the most common medical conditions during pregnancy.2

Hypertension during pregnancy prevents the placenta from receiving a sufficient blood supply. When the placenta is deprived of blood, the growing baby receives less oxygen and nutrients. This in turn causes a number of birth-related complications such as low birth weight and premature birth. Other complications include learning disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and vision problems. Moreover, maternal hypertension also increases the risk of congenital heart disease in the foetus3, a condition where structural problems in the heart are present at birth.

In India, the prevalence of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy is about 6-8%1, which means that at least 3 in every 50 women experience elevated blood pressure levels during pregnancy. In some cases, women suffer from hypertension before pregnancy, while in others, the condition develops during pregnancy. Effect of Heart Disease on Pregnancy4

  • Intrauterine growth retardation
  • Premature labour
  • Still birth
  • li>Abortion

Says Dr Shantala Vadeyar, Group Medical Director, Fetal & Maternal Medicine, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Mumbai explains, “Hypertension in pregnancy can lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia, characterized by high blood pressure, excessive excretion of protein in the urine and swelling in the feet, legs and hands. The condition usually appears late in pregnancy, generally after the 20-week mark. If left undiagnosed, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a serious condition that puts both mother and baby at risk, and in rare cases may even cause death.”

Fortunately, most women can deliver a healthy baby if hypertension is diagnosed and treated early during pregnancy. It is now also possible to prenatally diagnose congenital heart disease, which enables parents to be better prepared before the baby is born and to choose a healthcare facility that is equipped to manage such a delivery.

On occasion of World Heart Day, doctors urge patients to be more aware of the condition and seek prompt medical attention if they suspect hypertension. This will, in turn, significantly help improve pregnancy outcomes and reduce the high rates of morbidity associated with the condition.


1) Park K: ‘Park’s Textbook of preventive and social medicine’ 20th edition

Cloudnine Blog (

Cloudnine Blog (

Maternal Hypertension During Pregnancy and the Risk of Congenital Heart Defects in Offspring: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis- Ramakrishnan A et al, Pediatr Cardiol. 2015, Association between Maternal Chronic Conditions and Congenital Heart Defects: A Population-Based Cohort Study -Shiliang Liu et al,, and Maternal Hypertension Increases Risk for Birth Defects,

Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research:

Original Source:


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