Hypertension in pregnancy, if not managed, could lead to complications including seizures, coma, premature delivery, and an increased chance of intrauterine growth restriction in the baby, Dr. Derrick Darko, a Medical Officer, has cautioned.
Other consequences include detachment of the placenta, bleeding in pregnancy, and a higher probability of remaining hypertensive after delivery.
Dr Darko, a medical officer at the International Maritime Hospital (IMaH), noted that among maternal deaths that occurred during delivery, about 50 percent were attributed to hypertension.
Speaking at a weekly health discussion programme called “Your Health! Our Collective Responsibility, Dr. Darko said even though the causes of hypertension were yet to be established, some contributory factors included a high intake of salt and fatty foods, a hereditary condition, and a sedentary lifestyle.
“Your Health! Our Collective Responsibility is Ghana News Agency Tema Regional Office initiative aimed at promoting health-related communication and providing a platform for health information dissemination to influence personal health choices through improved health literacy
The Office developed the public health advocacy platform “Your Health! Our Collective Responsibility” to investigate the components of four health communication approaches: informing, instructing, convincing, and promoting.
He explained that there are four categories of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy: chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia-eclampsia, and chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia.
Dr. Darko said apart from recording high blood pressure readings, other signs to look out for were protein in the urine, which could be picked up through the various tests done during pregnancy.
Others include severe frontal headaches that could not be reduced with the intake of painkillers, visual blurriness, flashes of light on the face, continuous nausea and vomiting, experiencing pain just beneath the breast or right side of the abdomen, and a sharp increase in weight with swellings of the hands and feet that look shiny.
He explained that hypertension in pregnancy could be categorized in two ways: those who were already diagnosed as hypertensive before getting pregnant and those who developed it during pregnancy.
He said those already diagnosed must seek pre-pregnancy counselling from their doctors before getting pregnant, adding that, with that their medications and dietary needs could be checked to avoid complications.
He urged women to start antenatal care immediately after they recognized that they were pregnant to enable their blood pressure to be taken, recorded, and monitored to help in the early detection of any symptoms of hypertension and its related complications and to help save the lives of both mother and baby.
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