Pre-eclampsia - a high-blood pressure condition during gestation - can potentially restrict the growth of the foetus and affect pregnancy outcomes, say health experts.
Preeclampsia usually gets triggered around 20 weeks of pregnancy and can be potentially life-threatening. :It can lead to preterm birth or stillbirths as well as early neonatal deaths.
High blood pressure or hypertension, which kills eight million people every year worldwide, is one of the most important causes of premature death worldwide and the problem is growing.
"Preeclampsia is known to affect arteries, which provide blood to placenta. This restricts growth of foetus," Sanjay Mittal, Consultant Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad, said in a statement.
Although the exact number of women who develop preeclampsia is not known, some estimates suggest that preeclampsia affects two to eight per cent of all pregnancies globally and accounts for 10 to 15 per cent of maternal deaths worldwide, according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While it may develop without any symptoms, rising blood pressure along with severe headaches, changes in vision, nausea and vomiting, liver- or kidney-related problems, and most importantly high protein levels in urine, could be key indicators.
Preeclampsia can also lead to another major complication called HELLP syndrome -- a life-threatening condition that occurs in about 10 to 20 per cent of all women with severe preeclampsia.
The syndrome causes problems with blood, liver, and blood pressure and can damage organs or trigger a stroke and lead to cardiovascular diseases of both the mother and baby.
"The unfortunate part is that there is no known strategy to prevent preeclampsia. With the extent of potential damage that can be caused by the disorder, the most important preventive measure is to control hypertension in women before and around pregnancy," Mittal said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over a billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension and it is predicted to increase by 60 per cent to 1.56 billion in 2025.
It is also a leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, dementia and renal failure.
"Hypertension is not just a disease which affects the heart and kidneys, it has a negative effect on brain, kidneys, lungs, eyes, bone density and nerves," said Mukesh Goel, Senior Consultant (Cardio-Thoracic and Vascular Surgery) at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
"From brain to blood vessels, it causes strokes, aneurysms, cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia), glomerulosclerosis, osteoporosis and many more diseases," he added.
While physical activity, including regular exercises, yoga, aerobics, and swimming only helps to improve overall health and makes the body fitter, "to deal with the alarming state of hypertension, one must ensure regular blood pressure check-ups, especially after the age of 40, intake of low sodium diet, avoidance of smoking and alcohol consumption," explained Anil Prasad Bhatt, Senior Consultant (Nephrology and Kidney Transplant), Jaypee Hospital.
Patients must avoid alteration or self-medication once BP is controlled, regularly use anti-hypertensive drugs and follow up with the physician for dosage adjustment.
"Try to follow DASH diet plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) which ensures that the patient gets required quantity of all essential nutrients. Reduce stress, do meditation and make sure that your diabetes is under control," Bhatt added.