High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) means the pressure of the blood inside your arteries is at a level higher than normal. This can create health risks at any time, and it is even more of a risk during pregnancy. If not treated, it can cause serious problems for you and your baby.

Types of high blood pressure

  • Chronic (long-lasting) hypertension
    Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that you had before your pregnancy or that occurs before the 20th week of your pregnancy. Your health care provider will monitor your blood pressure closely to determine if you need to change your medicine or begin taking medicine.
  • Gestational hypertension
    Pregnancy can cause high blood pressure even if you have never had it before. It usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy and goes away soon after your baby is born. High blood pressure in pregnancy will need to be monitored and you may need medicine to treat it. Having gestational hypertension may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure in the future.

With either type of high blood pressure, your baby may need to be delivered early if your high blood pressure becomes severe.

Preeclampsia can develop with both types of high blood pressure. Your health care provider will monitor you closely for severe blood pressure and signs of preeclampsia.

Complications of high blood pressure during pregnancy

High blood pressure during pregnancy can put extra stress on your heart and kidneys. It can also increase your risk for the following complications (problems).

Risks for you:

  • preeclampsia
  • Cesarean birth
  • placental abruption (when the placenta separates early from the uterus)
  • seizures
  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • ·organ damage
  • death.

Risks for your baby:

  • growth restriction (your baby is not growing at the normal rate)
  • preterm birth
  • serious health problems
  • death.

Learn more about preeclampsia including:

  • risk factors
  • serious complications (problems)
  • treatment.

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy


Top number (systolic)


Bottom number (diastolic) Follow-up instructions

High blood pressure

130s to 150s


80s to 100s

Talk with your health care provider about treatment. Watch for signs of preeclampsia.

Hypertensive emergency

160 or higher


110 or higher

Call your health care provider right away.

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021