High blood pressure in pregnancy

Pre-eclampsia is specifically an antenatal illness and is a form of so-called pregnancy toxaemia (gestosis).

Primary symptoms include increased blood pressure (of more than 140 over 90 mmHg), a rise in the elimination of protein via the urine and considerable retention of fluids in the pregnant woman's tissue (oedema). These symptoms may however also arise in a normal pregnancy and are not strictly a sign that pre-eclampsia exists. Oedema in particular is very common amongst women in the latter stages of pregnancy and arises without any underlying disorder being present. High blood pressure occurs in 10% of pregnancies, whilst pre-eclampsia occurs in 2%.
If the specified symptoms are present to a considerable degree, or in combination with one another, they may have a negative influence on the normal course of the pregnancy. The respective symptoms can have an affect on the condition of the mother or the baby and medical treatment, close outpatient care, a hospital stay or even an elective premature birth may be necessary.
To date, the precise cause of these types of antenatal disorders (gestosis) remains unclear. It is assumed that a combination of multiple factors forms the basis, in which both nutritional and metabolic aspects play a role alongside genetic, immunological and blood clotting factors.