Dr Mary Norine Walsh Discusses Risks for Pregnant Women With Hypertension

Mary Norine Walsh, MD, immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology, discusses the risks for pregnant women with hypertension.

What special concerns do pregnant women have with hypertension? What signs should they look for if they have not experienced hypertension in the past?

One of the focuses of that particular paper in [the Journal of American College of Cardiology] JACC was hypertension across a woman's life cycle. The reason that this is important– in particular in pregnancy– [is that] there are several different issues that women need to think about. One is if a woman has pre-existing hypertension going into pregnancy, that's one issue and the hypertension has to be well controlled during the pregnancy. 

But, an even bigger concern often is a woman who develops hypertension during pregnancy and/or preeclampsia. [This is] because what we know is that any level of hypertension during pregnancy, or the preeclamptic state, predicts for women a higher risk going forward of developing cardiovascular disease later on in her life. 

In addition to the obstetric clinicians as well as internal medicine, family medicine, and even cardiologists who a woman might see, she really needs to be aware of her own blood pressure and to be asking those questions during the monitoring of her pregnancy as to "What is my blood pressure, do I have signs of preeclampsia, are there conditions that I need to worry about?"
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