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Gestational hypertension (GH) is high blood pressure that develops after the twentieth week of pregnancy and returns to normal after delivery, in women with previously normal blood pressure.
GH may be an early sign of either preeclampsia or chronic hypertension. If these complications do not develop, or if chronic hypertension develops but remains mild, the outcome of pregnancy is usually good for both the mother and newborn. GH has been shown to occur more frequently in women who are obese1 or in those who are glucose-intolerant.2, 3, 4
Symptoms, which appear after the twentieth week of pregnancy, include swelling of the face and hands, visual disturbances, headache, high blood pressure, and a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes.
Job stress (lack of control over work pace and the timing and frequency of breaks) has been reported to be detrimental; therefore, reducing job stress may be beneficial in the prevention of GH.8 In a preliminary study, women exposed to high job stress were found to be at greater risk of developing GH than were women with low job stress.9
The common practice of prescribing bed rest for women with GH has been questioned by some researchers.10 In the few studies examining this issue, results have been inconsistent.11, 12 While one controlled study found that bed rest reduced progression of GH to severe hypertension,13 evidence is currently insufficient to determine whether bed rest reduces blood pressure in women with GH.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2017.