There are common questions that we can answer about all health topics, such as "What is it?" and "How many people are affected." Answers to these questions are found under Condition Information. Each health topic frequently has specific questions that pertain only to that topic. We have answered those in this section.
If I have high blood pressure, can I take steps to prevent problems like preeclampsia during pregnancy?
You may be at higher than average risk for getting preeclampsia during pregnancy if you currently have chronic hypertension (high blood pressure not due to pregnancy). Your risk is also higher if you had gestational hypertension (high blood pressure that occurs only during pregnancy) or preeclampsia with an earlier pregnancy, if you are obese, or if you have other risk factors.1
There is no known way to prevent preeclampsia. However, you can take steps to lower your risk. Talk with your health care provider now about how hypertension might affect your pregnancy and what you can do to lower your risk of complications.
Before You get Pregnant
- Visit your health care provider for a preconception visit to discuss what you can do to lower your risk. Your health care provider may recommend ways to control your blood pressure, if needed, by limiting your salt intake, exercising regularly, and losing weight if you are overweight.
- If you take medication to control your blood pressure, ask your health care provider if you should change it. Some medications should not be used during pregnancy. Your health care provider may be able to recommend safer alternatives.
While You are Pregnant
- Be sure to get regular prenatal care, including regular blood pressure checks, urine tests for protein, as well as regular weight checks.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
- Talk with your doctor about any drugs or supplements, including vitamins and herbs, that you take or are thinking of taking.
If I had preeclampsia with one pregnancy, will it happen again in later pregnancies?
If you had preeclampsia during your first pregnancy, your risk of developing preeclampsia again is about 15%.2 Your risk is even higher if you delivered your first child before 28 weeks of pregnancy or if you are overweight or obese.2
Your risk of having preeclampsia again is also higher if you developed preeclampsia early in your previous pregnancy, if you developed chronic hypertension or diabetes after the first pregnancy, or if you had in vitro fertilization or are carrying more than one fetus. Having severe preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome during the first pregnancy also raises your risk.
If you had HELLP syndrome during a pregnancy, you have about a 25% chance of getting it again.3
- Zamorski, M. A., & Green, L. A. (2001). NHBPEP Report on High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy: A Summary for Family Physicians. American Family Physician, 64, 263–271. [top]
- Mostello, D., Kallogjeri, D., Tungsiripat, R., Leet, T. (2008). Recurrence of preeclampsia: Effects of gestational age at delivery of the first pregnancy, body mass index, paternity, and interval between births. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 199, 55.e1–55.e7. [top]
- PubMed Health. (2011). HELLP syndrome. Retrieved May 21, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001892 [top]