Heart Health & Pregnancy

Hello loves! We just got home from our 24 week prenatal appointment and I can’t believe how fast time is flying! I’m so excited to meet this little man and naturally just like any mama, I would do anything to make sure he stays healthy. Keeping your baby (and yourself!) healthy is your most important goal when expecting, which is why I today’s topic is so important.


Did you know that women are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke during certain stages of life, particularly during pregnancy? That’s why it’s so essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep up with regular checkups and screenings. Blood pressure ties in closely with both of these risks, and also hits home with me because high blood pressure runs on one side of my family.

It may be no surprise that high blood pressure (hypertension, or HTN) is a common condition when pregnant. If not appropriately treated, it could negatively affect the health of both mom and baby during pregnancy, delivery, or after delivery.

I’m sure most of you ladies have heard of Preeclampsia. This is defined as the onset of abnormally high blood pressure readings (140/90mmHg or more on 2 occasions or 160/110mmHg or higher on one occasion), during pregnancy in women that had normal readings previously.

Preeclampsia typically presents after 20 weeks gestation or shortly before delivery. Women who are first-time mothers, have a pre-pregnancy history of HTN, a family member with HTN, or have certain other medical conditions are at higher risk. Preeclampsia affects about 4% of pregnancies in the U.S.

Any women in this category needs to be especially vigilant about checking their blood pressure regularly and contacting their health care provider immediately if their BP goes above the numbers mentioned. It’s even a good idea to even have a blood pressure monitor on hand at home. You can read more about high blood pressure and pregnancy here.

All types of HTN can be potentially serious for both you and your baby. Any HTN may be linked to preeclampsia, stroke, premature delivery, and other complications which could lead to low birth weight or premature delivery. Any mamas out there, if you have sudden swelling in the face or hands, upper abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, changes in vision, severe headaches, nausea, or vomiting, contact your health care provider immediately. You can read more about pregnancy and stroke here.

Okay, now lets talk about prevention of HTN. Being aware if you are at risk is key.

Know your own health issues, as well as your genetic background. Speak with your health care provider and monitor your blood pressure at home if recommended. Begin regular prenatal care early. Maintain a healthy body weight and stay active. Eat a balanced diet and try to limit your sodium intake. Bottom line- you need to know about these potential risks to both you and your baby and take precautions to avoid them. Just being aware and knowing what symptoms to look for empowers both you and your baby to stay healthy!

Many thanks to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for the statistics and great advice for pregnant women regarding hypertension and heart health. For more information, visit the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/pregnancy.htm.

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