High Blood Pressure Symptoms While Pregnant

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is not typically caused by pregnancy. However, there is a condition termed pregnancy induced hypertension, PIH, or preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure in pregnant women, states MayoClinic.com. Preeclampsia most commonly begins after the twentieth week of the pregnancy and continues until a few weeks after the birth of the child. High blood pressure during pregnancy can become a very dangerous disorder, and recognizing the symptoms of PIH can aid in immediate diagnosis and treatment.


Headaches are a common symptom in preeclampsia, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The headaches are usually caused by the increased blood pressure dilating the arteries in the head. This dilation can cause irritation and pain. Headaches can be relieved by medication, but if the patient’s high blood pressure is not corrected then the headaches will continue to recur.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition that occurs when the patient’s blood pressure is consistently higher than 120 mmHg over 80 mmHg. When this happens in a pregnant woman, the condition is called pregnancy-induced hypertension, or PIH, reports the American Heart Association. This condition affects six to eight percent of all American pregnancies. Women who develop PIH often exhibit high levels of blood pressure during their pregnancy and immediately after the end of the pregnancy.

Visual Problems

Patients with pregnancy-induced hypertension can often complain of visual problems such as blurry vision. These visual disturbances can result from the high blood pressure in the artery supplying the optic nerve, which is the principal nerve in the eye. When pressure increases in the artery, there may be damage done to the nerve. If treated in time the visual problems can be reversed, but if the damage becomes too severe, the patient may have permanent visual complications.

Protein in the Urine

If the patient’s urine contains excessive amounts of protein after the twentieth week of pregnancy, the patient may be suffering from preeclampsia, according to MayoClinic.com. Preeclampsia leads to damage in the kidneys, which can cause protein to leak out of the blood and kidneys and into the urine. Patients with preeclampsia need to receive treatment immediately in order to prevent further and permanent kidney damage.

Weight Gain and Swelling of the Hands and Feet

Weight gain and swelling of specific parts of the body are common symptoms of preeclampsia, stated the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The high blood pressure can force fluid out of the blood vessels and into the tissues of the hands and feet. The tissues absorb this fluid, and this causes a swelling in these parts of the body. The excess fluid, which is normally excreted in the urine, causes the patient’s weight to increase rapidly. The sudden weight gain and swelling of the feet and hands are common signs of preeclampsia.

About this Author

Joseph Pritchard graduated from Our Lady of Fatima Medical School with a medical degree. He has spent almost a decade studying humanity. Dr. Pritchard writes for the Examiner.com as the SF biology examiner and thoroughly enjoys sharing the knowledge he has accumulated.