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Hypertension: Pregnancy’s Silent Killer

Chronic hypertension is a common illness in the general population. However, hypertension is frequently never be diagnosed because those who have it usually have no symptoms. It is also undertreated because hypertensive people may not understand its importance, do not have the funds to purchase the medication, do not remember to take their medication or simply do not follow up with their healthcare provider.

High blood pressure and pregnancy generally present in either of two ways: as the complex disease pre-eclampsia/eclampsia or as chronic hypertension, which puts women at risk for stroke, heart failure and a host of other complications. Care for a pregnant woman with chronic hypertension must include a review to assure that her medications are safe in pregnancy. Counseling of a pregnant woman with chronic hypertension needs to emphasize the importance of taking her medications and regularly having her blood pressure monitor

The chief challenge to controlling hypertension in pregnancy is similar to those that challenge non-pregnant persons: the lack of symptoms can engender complacency. Thus, patient education and vigilance by healthcare professionals are important interventions to hush this silent killer of mothers and babies.

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