Hypertension-related disorders during pregnancy remain among the most significant problems in India. Nearly 10 million women worldwide develop pregnancy-induced hypertension every year, more than 76,000 of whom die due to complications directly related to hypertension. About 50,000 of these deaths occur in India.
The prevalence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Karnataka is estimated to be around 8%.
Research also indicates that women with high blood pressure, especially during pregnancy, are at a two-fold risk of heart failure post-delivery. The need of the hour is to monitor women all through pregnancy and even after childbirth, through the postpartum period, say doctors.
According to K.K. Aggarwal, president of Heart Care Foundation of India, hypertension during pregnancy can be detrimental to both the mother and the baby. “Women with high blood pressure can develop resistance in their blood vessels. This hampers the flow of blood throughout the body, including the placenta and uterus, leading to problems with fetal growth. It can also cause premature detachment of the placenta from the uterus, disruption in the flow of oxygen to the placenta leading to delayed fetal growth, or in worst cases even stillbirth,” he said.
“If not closely monitored before, during, and after childbirth, it may become a major cause of heart problems, including heart failure in such women. Some other fatal repercussions of high blood pressure include pre-term birth, seizures, or even death of the mother and the baby,” he said.
N. Venkatesh, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vikram Hospital in Bengaluru, said five pregnant mothers die every hour in India due to this condition.
“In fact, 30% of all mortality in pregnant women is due to complications related to hypertension. It is imperative for women diagnosed with hypertension to monitor their blood pressure before, during, and after pregnancy,” he said.
Pointing out that such patients should consume less salt as a high intake can raise blood pressure, Dr. Venkatesh said it is also important to be physically active during pregnancy. “Sedentary women are likely to gain more weight than required, which can increase the risk of hypertension. The normal weight gain should be 1.5 kg per month. However, some women, who develop hypertension after they cross five months, tend to put on nearly two kgs in a week, which can be detrimental to both the mother and baby,” he said.