High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
Having an elevated blood pressure (BP) during pregnancy is not uncommon. The amount of blood the heart needs to pump to all the organs increases steadily until the stage of around 20 weeks when it is pumping approximately seven litres every minute. If the heart pumps too rapidly, palpitations can be felt as each contraction of the heart is not as forceful or coordinated as it needs to be. The combination of extra blood volume and more efficient pumping action by the heart means that the blood pressure should actually be affected more than it is. However, during pregnancy, protective factors in the blood vessels make them more dilated and elastic. This means that in most women, problems with high blood pressure do not occur. Their body compensates for all the extra blood flow and they manage just fine.
Progesterone, the relaxing hormone of pregnancy, helps to support changes in the blood vessels. Although most of its effects are beneficial, not all are.