Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Pregnancy Induced Hypertension

Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) is a gestational complication affecting about 5% of all pregnancies.

PIH is high blood pressure that occurs during the gestational period. It most commonly affects young women, those with multiple pregnancies or those who developed PIH in a previous pregnancy. Medical conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes can increase your risk of developing the condition.

As a result, the chances of complications such as prematurity are a real issue. PIH can limit the blood and oxygen supply to the placenta that can result in low birth weight or placental abruption before delivery. Other rarer complications that can result in PIH include stroke, liver failure, kidney failure, blood clotting and seizures.

Types of PIH

  • Pre-pregnancy hypertension: This refers to pre-existing or chronic hypertension. There are usually no visible symptoms so the condition is often undiagnosed until pregnancy.
  • Gestational hypertension: This is high blood pressure that appears usually in the second trimester. This condition can in turn lead to pre-eclampsia.
  • Pre-eclampsia: This is the most severe form of PIH. Characterised by increased blood pressure, generalized oedema and high protein count in the urine. If left untreated, this condition can lead to organ damage to the kidneys, brain or liver.
  • Eclampsia: This is the most severe form of pre-eclampsia which causes seizures and needs immediate delivery of the baby. This condition may manifest itself after delivery. This condition is particularly rare.

Who is at risk?

A pregnant woman is at risk of developing PIH if she is under 20 years of age or over 40 years of age. If the woman has a history of chronic hypertension or developed PIH or pre-eclampsia during a previous pregnancy then she is at risk. Other factors include obesity, immune system disorders, kidney disease and having a multiple pregnancy.

Treatment

With regards to treatment, it will be decided on your medical history, current health and the severity of the condition. Regular check-ups, blood tests, medication and rest may be required. Close monitoring of the fetus is also recommended such as regular fetal monitoring and ultrasound.

Dr Len Kliman is one of Melbourne’s most experienced and respected obstetrician and gynaecologists.

With over three decades of experience, Dr Kliman has treated tens of thousands of gynaecological patients and delivered more than 20,000 babies and still counting!

In 2017, Dr Kliman was awarded an Order of Australia for his services to obstetrics and gynaecology.