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Forum Name: Obstetrics

Question: Blood pressure irregularities during pregnancy


 kaitka - Thu May 24, 2007 8:24 pm

Hi. I'm a 23-year-old female with a 17-month-old daughter. She was born in December 2005. During my pregnancy with her, I had horrible bouts of dizziness, and could barely get out of bed after the 3-month mark. I had to stop working because I would pass out after standing for about 15 minutes. The doctor told me my iron levels were slightly low, but nothing to worry about. At 40 weeks pregnant, I developed preeclampsia. I was induced on my due date because there was a significant amount of protein in my urine. There was no prior incidence of blood pressure problems through any of that pregnancy. At the time of my daughter's birth, my iron levels were dangerously low and the doctors wanted to do a blood transfusion. I refused, and the levels returned to normal very shortly following.

I am currently 21 weeks pregnant with my second. I'm having the same repeat dizzy spells. My iron levels are normal, as well as my blood pressure while I'm at the doctor. Last time I was at the grocery store (this is where I notice most of these problems since it involves walking), I tested my blood pressure while I felt fine, and it was 150/108. My blood pressure is ALWAYS around 110/70 when I'm tested at the doctor. I was shocked at how high it was, and how normal I felt. Within about 15 minutes, however, I started feeling dizzy, had to sit down. So I took my blood pressure again immediately, and found that it had dropped a significant amount. It was 80/50.

I understand that blood pressure can change within just minutes, but it seems like an awfully dramatic change. And I'm fairly certain now that it's my blood pressure causing this dizziness. There is a very large family history of blood pressure problems and heart problems. I have Mitral Valve Prolapse (was diagnosed at 18 years old), but am not on any medications for anything. Normally, drinking tons and tons of water throughout my grocery store trips helps keep me from passing out. Sometimes, though, it doesn't work. How can I get this under control and what are the effects this will have on my 21-week-old fetus?

Any help is greatly appreciated, as this is an ongoing problem and I would like to have more children. This problem makes it incredibly difficult to be pregnant. I have no blood pressure problems when I am not pregnant. But I do have very significant irregular heartbeat, which gets worse when I'm pregnant, probably because of these blood pressure irregularities.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Fri May 25, 2007 4:49 pm

User avatar Hi,
I hope you are in good communication with your obstetrician or family doctor about your bothersome symptoms. In addition to the classic hypertension (high blood pressure), there is secondary hypertension, where something else in the body is resulting in the high blood pressure (or fluctuating blood pressure). Since your doctor will only see the results on the days you are in there, let him/her know what is happening, what the home monitoring is showing and you may be recommended to have your pressure measured even several times daily using a home monitor. The overall pattern is important so your doctor needs to know what is going on. Some conditions that can affect blood pressure include glandular problems (thyroid, adrenal gland, parathyroid, diabetes, etc.), kidney problems, sleep apnea, obesity, medications (including supplements), and pregnancy induced hypertension. This is why it is important for you to communicate with your health care provider so if additional testing is necessary it can be arranged.

Additionally, blood pressure fluctuations are usually without symptoms (as you noticed when you discovered the episode of high blood pressure) so it is possible your symptoms are caused by something else entirely which should be checked out. Gestational diabetes is another common pregnancy complication which can cause some very uncomfortable feelings. This is generally checked near the beginning of the third trimester because it most often appears in the latter part of pregnancy but it can occur sooner too.

Please let us know what you find out. This is definitely not a normal pregnancy reaction. Even if it turns out to not be serious at all, it is important to be sure.

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