New high blood pressure guidelines could increase detection of gestational hypertension, finds a new study.
The clinical guidelines for hypertension were released by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2017 in non-pregnant adults in 2017. The study was published in the journal 'Circulation Research'.
"Timely, accurate diagnosis of gestational hypertension is crucial for preventing associated conditions for pregnant women like preeclampsia and postpartum chronic hypertension. Infants born to women with gestational hypertension are more susceptible to preterm birth and adverse long-term health outcomes like young adulthood cardiovascular diseases," said Jie Hu, the study's first author.
"Incorporating the 2017 ACC/AHA guidelines into prenatal care practice could improve detection of high blood pressure during pregnancy and the efforts to reduce adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes in the perinatal period that are related to gestational hypertension," said Hu.
Hu and the international collaborative team used systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements obtained from the medical records of 16,345 women from a maternal and child health care hospital in Wuhan, China. Blood pressure measurements were recorded by obstetricians during prenatal care visits across various stages of pregnancy.
Using the 2017 ACC/AHA guidelines, the investigators identified 4,100 women (25.1 per cent) with hypertension. In contrast, only 678 (4.2 per cent) of the women were found to have hypertension using the previous guidelines, indicating a substantial increase in the prevalence of gestational hypertension compared to the previous definition.
The investigators acknowledge that the findings will need to be replicated in more ethnically, racially and socioeconomically diverse populations, as well as in other nations aside from China. Future studies are necessary to determine whether more frequent diagnoses of hypertension lead to improved neonatal outcomes for mothers and infants.
According to the researchers, current management strategies for gestational hypertension include continued observation and careful follow-up of blood pressure. Medication is only used in severe cases.