April 12, 2018

Elevated Blood Pressure and Early Pregnancy Loss

elevated blood pressure and early pregnancy loss

Most people know that high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but what do we know about elevated blood pressure and early pregnancy loss? Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first or top number is called systolic blood pressure and is a measurement of the pressure (mm Hg) in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second or bottom number is called diastolic blood pressure and is a measurement of the pressure (mm Hg) in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. Mean arterial pressure or MAP is defined as the average blood pressure in one cardiac cycle and is derived by a formula where MAP=(2x diastolic) + systolic/3. MAP is a better indicator of how well your organs are receiving blood called perfusion than systolic blood pressure.  

High blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous to both mother and baby. The effects of high blood pressure on early pregnancy complications have not been well studied. A recently published study in 1,228 women determined whether incremental increases in pre-pregnancy blood pressure had early consequences for reproductive health. Mean pre-pregnancy systolic and diastolic blood pressure were 111.6 mm HG/72.5 mm Hg. The risk of early pregnancy loss increased 18% per 10 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure and 17% per 10 mm Hg increase in mean arterial pressure. These findings indicate that pre-pregnancy blood pressure among otherwise healthy young women is associated with pregnancy loss. The authors concluded that lifestyle interventions targeting blood pressure among young women may favorably impact reproductive health. A healthy diet, moderate exercise and maintaining a healthy weight may ameliorate blood pressure and facilitate a healthy pregnancy.

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Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D. Board-Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility