Hypertension affects 10% of pregnancies in the United States and remains a leading cause of both maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Hypertension in pregnancy includes a spectrum of conditions, most notably pre-eclampsia, a form of hypertension unique to pregnancy that occurs de novo or superimposed on chronic hypertension. Risks to the fetus include premature delivery, growth retardation, and death. The only definitive treatment of preeclampsia is delivery. Treatment of severe hypertension is necessary to prevent cerebrovascular, cardiac, and renal complications in the mother. The 2 other forms of hypertension, chronic and transient hypertension, usually have more benign courses. Optimal treatment of high blood pressure in pregnancy requires consideration of several aspects unique to gestational cardiovascular physiology. The major goal is to prevent maternal complications without compromising uteroplacental perfusion and fetal circulation. Before an antihypertensive agent is prescribed, the potential risk to the fetus from intrauterine drug exposure should be carefully reviewed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas