Gestational Hypertension (Holistic)

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About This Condition

A healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy mother-to-be. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Get more calcium

    Supplement with 1,200 to 1,500 mg a day to reduce risk

  • Mix in some magnesium

    Take a 300 mg per day of this essential mineral to help prevent gestational hypertension or reduce its severity

  • Address your stress

    Try meditation, counseling, and other methods that can ease the stress that contributes to gestational hypertension

  • Manage your medications

    If you're taking blood pressure medication, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine if you should increase your intake of potassium

  • Go for routine checkups

    See your pregnancy caregiver for blood-pressure checks and other important tests

About

About This Condition

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

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.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

In GH, regular checkups during pregnancy and after delivery are needed for the prevention and early detection of preeclampsia and chronic hypertension.5 , 6 , 7

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.

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
Go fish
Eating more fish has been associated with reduced risk of gestational hypertension.

Increased consumption of fish was associated with reduced risk of GH in one preliminary study. In this study, the incidence of hypertension during pregnancy was significantly higher in women from communities with lower consumption of fish and lower in women from communities with high fish consumption.

No need to cut salt
Unlike salt restriction in primary hypertension, a low-salt diet has not been shown to have a significant effect in reducing high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Unlike salt restriction in primary hypertension, a low-salt diet has not been shown to have a significant effect in reducing high blood pressure during pregnancy. As a result, salt restriction is not recommended to women with GH.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?
Supplement Why
3 Stars
Calcium
1,200 to 1,500 mg daily
Supplementing with calcium may reduce the risk of gestational hypertension.

Calcium deficiency has been implicated as a possible cause of GH. In two preliminary studies, women who developed GH were found to have significantly lower dietary calcium intake than did pregnant women with normal blood pressure. Calcium supplementation has significantly reduced the incidence of GH in preliminary studies and in many, though not all, double-blind trials. Calcium supplements may be most effective in preventing GH in women who have low dietary intake of calcium. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends an intake of 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium daily during normal pregnancy. In women at risk of GH, studies showing reduced incidence have typically used 2,000 mg of supplemental calcium per day, without any reported maternal or fetal side effects. Nonetheless, many doctors continue to suggest amounts no higher than 1,500 mg per day.

3 Stars
Magnesium
300 mg daily
Taking magnesium may prevent gestational hypertension or reduce its severity.

Magnesium deficiency has also been implicated as a possible cause of GH. Dietary intake of magnesium is below recommended levels for many women during pregnancy. Magnesium supplementation has been reported to reduce the incidence of GH in preliminary and many double-blind trials. In addition to preventing GH, magnesium supplementation has also been reported to reduce the severity of established GH in one study. Amounts used in studies on GH range from 165 to 365 mg of supplemental magnesium per day.

1 Star
Zinc
Refer to label instructions
In one study, supplementing with zinc reduced the incidence of gestational hypertension in a group of pregnant Hispanic women who were not zinc deficient.

Zinc supplementation (20 mg per day) was reported to reduce the incidence of GH in one double-blind trial studying a group of low-income Hispanic pregnant women who were not zinc deficient.

References

1. Ros JS, Cnattingius S, Lipworth L. Comparison of risk factors for preeclampsia and gestational hypertension in a population-based cohort study. Am J Epidemiol 1998;147:1062-70.

2. Caruso A, Ferrazzani S, De Carolis S, et al. Gestational hypertension but not pre-eclampsia is associated with insulin resistance syndrome characteristics. Hum Reprod 1999;14:219-23.

3. Innes KE, Wimsatt JH. Pregnancy-induced hypertension and insulin resistance: evidence for a connection. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1999;78:263-84.

4. Solomon CG, Carroll JS, Okamura K, et al. Higher cholesterol and insulin levels in pregnancy are associated with increased risk for pregnancy-induced hypertension. Am J Hypertens 1999;12:276-82.

5. Mounier-Vehier C, Equine O, Valat-Rigot AS, et al. Hypertensive syndromes in pregnancy. Physiopathology, definition and fetomaternal complications. Presse Med 1999;28:880-5 [in French].

6. Mounier-Vehier C, Equine O, Valat-Rigot AS, et al. Hypertensive syndromes in pregnancy. Diagnosis and therapy. Presse Med 1999;28:886-91 [in French].

7. Jerie P. Hypertension and its treatment in pregnancy. Cas Lek Cesk 1998;137:467-72 [review] [in Czech].

8. Wergeland E, Strand K. Work pace control and pregnancy health in a population-based sample of employed women in Norway. Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24:206-12.

9. Marcoux S, Berube S, Brisson C, Mondor M. Job strain and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Epidemiology 1999;10:376-82.

10. Goldenberg RL, Cliver SP, Bronstein J, et al. Bed rest in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 1994;84:131-6 [review].

11. Herrera JA. Nutritional factors and rest reduce pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia in positive roll-over test primigravidas. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1993;41:31-5.

12. Mathews DD. A randomized controlled trial of bed rest and sedation or normal activity and non-sedation in the management of non-albuminuric hypertension in late pregnancy. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1997;84:108-14.

13. Crowther CA, Bouwmeester AM, Ashurst HM. Does admission to hospital for bed rest prevent disease progression or improve fetal outcome in pregnancy complicated by non-proteinuric hypertension? Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1992;99:13-7.