Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that develops after the twentieth week of pregnancy. The causes of this condition are unknown, but it is clear that the condition affects blood flow to organs such as the kidneys, placenta, brain, and liver. There is no way of preventing this type of hypertension, but regular prenatal care will usually catch it early, reducing the chances of complications.
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure inside your blood vessels -- while the heart is beating and while it is relaxed. Of course, high blood pressure develops when the pressure within your blood vessels is too high. This is also known as hypertension.
Pregnant women can develop high blood pressure just like women who are not pregnant. In fact, high blood pressure occurs in 6 percent to 8 percent of all pregnancies in the United States, approximately 70 percent of which are first-time pregnancies.
Women who are pregnant can develop a couple of different types of high blood pressure. One type is called gestational hypertension. Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that develops after the twentieth week of pregnancy. This is similar to another condition seen in pregnancy, known as preeclampsia.
(Click Preeclampsia for more information on this type of high blood pressure.)
At this point, hypertension research scientists do not know the cause or causes of gestational hypertension. They do know, however, that because of gestational hypertension, blood flow to organs such as the placenta, kidneys, brain, and liver may be affected.