Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH): Symptoms, Complications, and Treatments

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If left untreated, pregnancy-induced hypertension can have serious repercussions on both the baby and the mother. Read on to know more

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful phases in a woman’s life and one that requires constant monitoring of health. But maintaining good health during this period means more than just watching your weight and taking vitamins. It also entails managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Keeping both these problems in check has become even more crucial now because of the increased rate of multiple births and older mothers, which has contributed to the rise in certain types of hypertension during pregnancy.

One such ailment found in about 7 percent to 10 percent of pregnant women during the gestational period is pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH).

We spoke to Dr. Hrishikesh D Pai, Medical Director, Bloom IVF Group and Secretary General of the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India, Mumbai, to better understand this problem.

What is pregnancy-induced hypertension?


Dr. Pai explains, “This is a condition wherein a pregnant lady is observed to have elevated levels of blood pressure. This condition is mostly temporary with the exception of certain cases wherein it continues even post delivery. PIH is also known as preeclampsia and is more common in young women who conceive for the first time. If left untreated, it can have serious repercussions on both the baby and the mother.”

He suggests that one must keep a tab on its symptoms to avail immediate treatment.

13 symptoms of pregnancy-induced hypertension


  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension can be identified by the following predominant symptoms.
  • Elevated blood pressure levels normally during the second and third trimester
  • Presence of protein in a urine sample
  • Swelling or edema
  • Abnormal weight gain which is not associated with pregnancy
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Vomiting and a sense of nausea
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Frequent urge to urinate or a small amount of urination
  • Abnormal LFT and KFT results
  • Difficulty in blood clotting
  • Presence of blood in urine
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever and buzzing sound in the ears

“Women with certain medical conditions and health factors have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia. For instance, women with a history of high blood pressure, kidney ailments, diabetes, history of preeclampsia during first pregnancy, or women pregnant with multiple fetuses are at a higher risk of developing PIH,” explains Dr. Pai.

Like other illnesses, pregnancy-induced hypertension is not free from complications.

Complications due to pregnancy-induced hypertension


Dr. Pai explains further, “Women suffering from PIH develop a resistance in their blood vessels due to the high blood pressure. This hampers blood flow throughout the body including the placenta and uterus resulting in an interference in the growth of the fetus.”

He adds that PIH might also lead to a premature detachment of the placenta from the uterus, disruption in the flow of oxygen to the placenta leading to delayed fetal growth, or in worst cases even stillbirth.

“This condition should be immediately detected and treated to avoid fatal repercussions like pre-term birth, seizures, or rarely even death of the mother and the baby,” advises Dr. Pai.

Treatment for pregnancy-induced hypertension


Dr. Pai explains that a woman suffering from PIH is advised bed rest or in some cases hospitalization with constant fetal monitoring.

“She may be asked to undergo frequent blood pressure tests and urine sampling to record the fluctuations in pressure. Some are given corticosteroids to enable lung development of the fetus. Regular Doppler flow studies and biophysical profiling can enable the doctor to keep a check on the growth of the fetus. In case all treatments and medications are might also suggest early delivery,” he adds.

As for the final call on the treatment and medical prescriptions for PIH, they fully depend on the woman’s overall health, pregnancy level, and previous medical history.

Things new mums must bear in mind


“Remember that the doctor also takes into consideration the extent of PIH and the tolerance level of the patient to the prescribed medications or therapies,” Dr. Pai shares.

Pregnancy-induced hypertension is very common among pregnant ladies above 40 or in teenage pregnancies. It is thus very important to take all prenatal check-ups diligently to avoid complications.

Dr. Pai further advises, “Women suffering from PIH need to be regularly monitored and checked for normal fetal growth and health complications for a safe delivery. It has to be noted that not all fluctuations in blood pressure are due to PIH during pregnancy. A thorough check-up and blood test routine are the best ways to ensure whether a pregnant woman has PIH or not such that adequate measures can be taken.”
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