Last Updated: March 16 2022
While many pregnancies go smoothly, problems can come up. One of those problems is a sharp rise in blood pressure, resulting in hypertension. Hypertension-related complications of pregnancy impact roughly 5-8% of all pregnancies. This risk is 1.5-2 times higher for first pregnancies. Hypertension in pregnancy can be quite dangerous—it’s responsible for 14% of all pregnancy-related deaths. Among hypertension-related complications, pre-eclampsia makes up roughly half of these.
Pre-eclampsia is clinically defined as elevated blood pressure (140/90 mmHg over two occasions, or 160/110 on one occasion) in women who aren’t normally hypertensive, occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy, accompanied by protein in the urine, liver or kidney problems, fluid in the lungs, or low platelet count.
The causes and effects of pre-eclampsia are laid out in Figure 1. Reductions in pre-eclampsia may reduce the overall risk of maternal deaths.