As a soon-to-be parent, whether having their first child or their fifth, the desire is always to experience the healthiest pregnancy possible. However, health concerns like high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can pose significant risks.
Hypertension increases the risk of developing certain pregnancy complications, especially if these issues are left untreated.
Understanding the relationship between high blood pressure and fetal health will help keep both mother and child as safe as possible during pregnancy.
Complications of High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy
High blood pressure can have many complications during pregnancy for both mother and child.
If the mother has a previous existence of hypertension prior to pregnancy or develops it during the pregnancy, it’s important to pay close attention to blood pressure and symptoms. It’s best to keep all regular appointments with the obstetrician such that they can monitor the health of mother and child very closely.
Blood pressure may rise during pregnancy, especially after 20 weeks. This is known as gestational hypertension.
People with gestational hypertension typically don’t experience any of the organ damage that may result from long-term hypertension. The reason is that gestational hypertension is usually temporary.
Gestational hypertension may simply improve, but it does have the risk of developing into preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a serious complication that can develop in pregnant mothers who have gestational hypertension. An increased protein level in the urine is a typical indicator of preeclampsia.
In the condition of preeclampsia, high blood pressure has progressed to the point where it’s doing damage to vital organs like your kidneys, liver, and brain. This damage can be reversed, but only through careful management and the use of high blood pressure treatment methods.
If untreated, preeclampsia can progress to a more dangerous condition, eclampsia.
During eclampsia, damaged blood vessels prevent proper blood flow throughout the body. This can lead to conditions affecting the brain, such as seizure, coma, or even stroke.
Eclampsia is a very serious condition that endangers both the mother and baby. Medical treatment is life-saving.
That said, not every case of preeclampsia develops into eclampsia. Signs of eclampsia include abnormally high blood pressure spikes, abdominal pain, headaches, and visual changes. The chances of developing this condition are increased in pregnant patients younger than age 18 or older than age 35, in twin (or other multiple) pregnancies, or in people with diabetes.
Risks To The Baby
Hypertension doesn’t just pose a health risk for the mother. It can also interfere with the natural healthy development of the baby.
The risks to the baby’s health include low birth weight, placental abruption, and preterm delivery.
Low Birth Weight
More severe and long-lasting cases of high blood pressure can result in the baby being born a few pounds underweight, even if they are born right on time.
This is because a restricted blood flow can limit the amount of blood reaching the placenta, which, in turn, means the baby isn’t getting all the nutrients that would normally be available to them.
They may also have slowed growth because the lack of nutrients leads to slower fetal development. This is a bigger problem during the earliest stages of development when most cell replication is occurring.
During pregnancy, the placenta is attached to the uterine wall. Very high blood pressure can cause a placental abruption, which is when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterine wall. Abruption may be partial with only minor bleeding, or it may involve the placenta separating from the uterus entirely.
This is a very rare circumstance, but if it does happen, it means that the baby is no longer getting the nutrients and oxygen they need. This is an emergent condition requiring immediate delivery of the baby.
Premature birth may occur as a direct result of preeclampsia, or labor may need to be induced earlier than anticipated due to other complications during pregnancy related to high blood pressure.
Premature babies may need to spend additional time in the hospital, and they have a higher risk of developing some health complications. However, many premature babies also enjoy a long and healthy life with no noticeable health issues after a few months.
Pregnancy-Friendly High Blood Pressure Treatment
Some blood pressure medications are okay to take while pregnant, but others may not be. The mother should read the labels and be aware of all health warnings for any medications that are taken during pregnancy, and discuss these risks with the obstetrician.
Of course, natural treatment methods like adjusting your diet and exercise routine may be helpful in the case of gestational hypertension, but these methods should be discussed with the obstetrician.
In A Nutshell
If high blood pressure is a concern after becoming pregnant, don’t delay in seeking medical care. It’s best to get the safest care possible during pregnancy.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Is Dietary Supplementation Right For You?
There is a common saying, “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” This is especially true when it comes to heart health. Diet is sooooo very important… Did you know that your diet could be the key to a healthy heart? It’s true – what you eat (and don’t eat) can have a big impact on your cardiovascular health. So, if you’re looking to keep your heart in tip-top shape, make sure you pay attention to what you put on your plate.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to eat a healthy diet in this day and age. It is very important to note that we are not eating the same foods we ate years ago because the soils have been depleted of critical nutrients through current industrial farming practices. And because the soil is not as good as it used to be, the food supply (grown from the depleted soil) is not as good as it used to be. For example, you are not getting the same levels of magnesium as you would have gotten 30 or even 50 years ago.
Second, much of the food has been genetically altered, which can impact the inherent and unique nutritional composition that each food possess. For example, ancient einkorn wheat has less gluten, more protein, more Vitamin A, and more beta carotene, than modern genetically modified wheat.
Third, the toxic load in the environment today is much higher than 100 years ago. We can see this with global warming, toxic landfills, polluted oceans and waterways, etc. Toxicity levels interfere with nutrient assimilation and absorption not just into the foods, but into our bodies as well.
For some people, vitamin and mineral supplements offer important health benefits. Supplements are designed to fight deficiencies found in our diet and complement the food we eat regularly. Supplements are basically “helping hands” to our daily food.
If you need extra help in getting the nutrients you need, and/or are unable to eat better, the supplements in my Healthy Heart Bundle may provide the extra boost you need.
These are my favorite Heart Health Supplements to use! This Healthy Heart Bundle will ensure you have the intake of the important vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to decrease inflammation and boost your innate wellness day and night. Taken together, it’s a solid plan for increasing your body’s natural resiliency while you lose weight and improve your heart health, naturally.
For best results make sure you use my heart health supplements with dietary changes including a whole food plant-based diet, regular exercise (at least 2-3x per week), regular sleep (8 hours per night), and intermittent fasting (at least 1-3x per week).
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
It’s very important to monitor your blood pressure. I often recommend an automatic upper arm blood pressure cuff, but a wrist blood pressure monitor is also acceptable.
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Taking Charge Of Your Heart Health
Heart health is a big topic. It’s in the news, on our minds, and for good reason; heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. But what if there was something you could do proactively to help protect your heart from future problems? Enter the CardiaX test—a revolutionary new way to take charge of your heart health!
What is CardiaX?
CardiaX is a comprehensive genetic testing panel that looks at mutations associated with common cardiovascular risks. It can be used to determine if there are any genetic factors at play in your heart health, and it can also identify potential areas of risk that may require further action. With this knowledge, you can make informed choices about your health today with the aim of improving long-term heart health outcomes.
Who Might Benefit from CardiaX?
If you have been diagnosed with or are at risk for atherosclerosis, abnormal cholesterol production, hypertension, stroke risk, and risk for heart attack then you may benefit from this test. Additionally, anyone who wants to know more about their genetic predispositions for common cardiovascular risks may also want to consider taking this test as well.
What Can I Do With My Results?
Your results will give you an indication of whether or not there are any potential genetic markers playing a role in your risk for developing certain conditions related to heart health. From there, you can work with your healthcare provider to develop a plan that takes into account these findings and helps you develop strategies for managing them going forward. In addition to lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise modification, selecting medications that are tailored specifically to your genetics could be beneficial as well.
In A Nutshell…
The CardiaX test is an exciting new way to take charge of your heart health by learning more about how genetics might be playing a role in certain cardiovascular risks. With this knowledge in hand, patients can make decisions informed by their own unique genetic profile that will help reduce their overall risk for developing certain conditions associated with heart disease. This type of proactive approach is key when it comes to protecting ourselves against this all-too-common affliction—so don’t wait another minute! Take control of your future and get started with the CardiaX test today!
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
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