Sometimes high blood pressure is present before pregnancy. In other cases, high blood pressure develops during pregnancy.
Women with gestational hypertension have high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. There is no excess protein in the urine or other signs of organ damage. Some women with gestational hypertension eventually develop preeclampsia.
Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that was present before pregnancy or that occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy. But because high blood pressure usually doesn’t have symptoms, it might be hard to determine when it began.
This type of hypertension occurs in women with chronic hypertension before pregnancy who develop worsening high blood pressure and protein in the urine or other blood pressure related complications during pregnancy.
Preeclampsia occurs when hypertension develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and is associated with signs of damage to other organ systems, including the kidneys, liver, blood or brain. Untreated preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for mother and baby, including development of seizures (eclampsia).
If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, your baby might receive less oxygen and fewer nutrients. This can lead to slow growth, low birth weight or premature birth. Prematurity can lead to breathing problems, increased risk of infection and other complications for the baby.
Preeclampsia increases your risk in which the placenta separates from the inner wall of your uterus before delivery. Severe abruption can cause heavy bleeding, which can be life-threatening for you and your baby.
Hypertension might result in slowed or decreased growth of your baby (intrauterine growth restriction.
Poorly controlled hypertension can result in injury to your brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and other major organs. In severe cases, it can be life-threatening.
Sometimes an early delivery is needed to prevent potentially life-threatening complications when you have high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Having preeclampsia might increase your risk of future heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.