4 Types of Pregnancy-Related Hypertension Disorders

blood pressure diagnosis

Blood Pressure Disorders in Pregnant and Postpartum Women Should Be Detected and Treated  

Emerging data by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention Maternal Mortality Study Group continues to prove that too many mothers are dying or suffering from preventative or treatable pregnancy complications. Specifically, disorders related to hypertension (high blood pressure) in pregnancy and postpartum timeframes remain common and a leading cause of maternal mortality and infant morbidity worldwide.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has identified four major types of hypertensive pregnancy disorders, which can range from less to more severe, and typically occur after 20 weeks gestation.

  • Gestational hypertension: pregnancy-induced hypertension with onset after 20 weeks gestation
    • Defined as a systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg on two separate measurements at least four hours apart
  • Chronic hypertension: hypertension diagnosed < 20 weeks gestation or before pregnancy
  • Preeclampsia: gestational hypertension with proteinuria, renal insufficiency, thrombocytopenia, evidence of liver damage (e.g., elevated liver enzymes, epigastric pain), pulmonary edema, and/or cerebral edema (headache, visual blurring, vomiting, an altered mental status)
    • Superimposed preeclampsia: preeclampsia that occurs in a patient with chronic hypertension
    • HELLP syndrome: a life-threatening form of preeclampsia in which 30 percent of the cases arise postpartum
  • Eclampsia: a severe form of preeclampsia with convulsive seizures and/or coma that occurs the majority of time in the intrapartum and postpartum period

Hypertensive pregnancy disorders occur in six to eight percent of pregnancies in the U.S., and the incidences continue to increase due to complications that could have likely been detected and resolved by attentive healthcare providers.

Identifying Women at Risk for Hypertensive Disorders 

Women should be screened for hypertensive pregnancy disorders and diagnosed in the course of receiving their regular prenatal care, which includes routine surveillance of blood pressure, weight, and urine tests. When found at risk, treatment for all hypertensive pregnancy disorders should also include consistent maternal and fetal monitoring until a safe delivery is feasible.

In the more than 25 years since our firm’s inception, the Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Levin & Perconti have successfully settled and tried numerous cases involving maternal injuries and death as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, including multiple million-dollar verdicts. As parents, we also have personal experience and are passionate about securing justice for mothers whose lives have been impacted due to poor care during pregnancy and postpartum stages.

Levin & Perconti: Maternal Injury and Death Attorneys

As we continue to write and share information on maternal mortality causes in the weeks ahead, please share this information with your family and friends. And if you suspect medical negligence may have contributed to a maternal injury or death, please contact Levin & Perconti toll-free at 877-374-1417, in Chicago at (312) 332-2872, or by completing our online case evaluation form for a FREE consultation.

Read Part 1: Terrifying Conclusions Stem from U.S. Maternal Mortality Reports & Investigations

Source: Kuklina EV, Ayala C, Callaghan WM. Hypertensive disorders and severe obstetric morbidity in the United States. Obstet Gynecol. 2009.

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