Heart Health High Blood Pressure Living With Print High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy By Craig Weber, MD Updated March 27, 2018 Medically reviewed by a board-certified physician More in High Blood Pressure Living With Causes & Risk Factors Diagnosis Treatment Prevention Low Blood Pressure High blood pressure caused by pregnancy can be either a simple, uncomplicated issue or may be an early sign of more serious problems like preeclampsia or eclampsia. In order to know if early high blood pressure is a simple problem or sign of more serious issues to come, a complete evaluation must be done. The process is relatively routine and will involve several steps. Typically, no complicated or long-term steps are required, but some lab work and imaging may be needed. 1 Establish Baseline Blood Pressure Hero Images/Getty Images The initial evaluation of pregnancy-induced hypertension must include a set of introductory measurements which document the baseline blood pressure. More correctly, these measurements are taken to establish exactly how elevated the current blood pressure is compared to pre-pregnancy values. These initial measurements are essential because they allow tracking and evaluation of any changes in the blood pressure as the pregnancy progresses. Since evidence of consistently increasing pressures or a total increase that is too large both mean that treatment might be necessary, establishing this baseline is a required first step in evaluation. 2 Gather History and Symptom Information Patients with newly elevated blood pressures during their pregnancy need to have a full interview with their physician. During this talk he will ask many questions about the history of the elevated pressure, focusing on topics which might indicate that the high blood pressure is causing problems in other organ systems. These questions are necessary because certain symptom profiles may indicate that the baby could be at risk or that treatment for the high blood pressure is needed. Specifically, your physician is likely to ask about things like: HeadacheAbdominal painNausea and vomitingChanges in urinary amount or frequencyVisual changes (blurry vision, double vision) 3 Get Tested Along with taking an in-depth symptom history, your physician will probably want to run a set of laboratory tests. Lab tests can help distinguish whether treatment may actually be needed. The laboratory tests your physician is likely to order are all routine and will require both blood and urine samples. Some common tests include: Hemoglobin/Hematocrit - to assess oxygen carrying capacityPlatelet Count - to evaluate potential clotting problemsCreatinine level - a measure of kidney function and statusTransaminase levels - an indicator of liver functionLactic acid dehydrogenase concentration - an enzyme related to metabolism and liver function 4 Evaluate the Fetus An important part of evaluating pregnancy-induced hypertension is to ensure that the baby is not suffering any ill effects from the elevated blood pressure. While the role of ongoing fetal monitoring during pregnancy is debated because its benefit is unclear, an initial checkup of the baby's status is normal and appropriate. The most common way to make this initial checkup is with a simple ultrasound along with amniotic fluid estimation. These tests check to make sure the baby is developing normally and is the appropriate size. If any unusual findings are detected, more tests may be conducted, or a longer term of monitoring might be needed. 5 Make Decisions The most important thing your physician needs to evaluate is whether your high blood pressure is "just" high blood pressure, or whether there are signs that you might be in the initial stages of preeclampsia. Typically, if there are no signs of more serious problems, a "wait and see" approach is common. There is evidence to suggest that unless blood pressure is very high, it may be better to avoid treatment in order to reduce the risk of affecting the baby's growth. 6 Monitor for Preeclampsia and Eclampsia The purpose of carefully and completely evaluating high blood pressure during pregnancy is to ensure that there are no signs indicating that simple high blood pressure may be progressing towards the more complicated, and dangerous, conditions of preeclampsia and eclampsia. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Looking to start a diet to better manage your high blood pressure? Our nutrition guide can help. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources Barton, JR, O'Brien, JM, Bergauer, NK, Jacques, DL, et al. Mild gestational hypertension remote from term: progression and outcome. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2001; 184:979.