Blood pressure is the force with which blood moves through blood vessels.
Doctors and other health experts measure blood pressure by putting a cuff around the upper arm. They then listen to the blood flow with a stethoscope.
Increased blood pressure causes a condition referred to as hypertension.
In most of our referral hospitals here in Rwanda, one always finds hundreds of patients consulting for hypertension related problems during pregnancy.
This is even more dangerous because there are two lives at risk - the fetus and the mother.
In Rwanda, hypertension related problems contribute to nearly 40 percent of the pathologies presented by pregnant mothers.
There are three types of blood pressure formed during pregnancy. Chronic hypertension occurs where high blood pressure develops before the 20th week of pregnancy.
Sometimes it is present before a woman becomes pregnant. It is a common scenario for women to have hypertension even before getting pregnant, but many only realize it once they sign up for prenatal check ups.
Claudine Uwamaliya, a 35-year-old pregnant mother reported to the antenatal clinics of Muhima district hospital complaining of hypertension related problems.
Her blood pressure when measured was at 140/90 mm Hg when yet she was 34 weeks pregnant.
The tests also indicated that she had episodes of proteins in her urine. A condition that doctor’s refer to as pre-eclampsia.
If not attended to, pre-eclampsia can lead to the slow growth of the baby, low birth weight and pre-mature delivery.
It is worth mentioning that women who do not receive prenatal care are more likely to die from complications related to pre-eclampsia and eclampsia than women who receive some level of prenatal care.
Women, who have in their past history suffered from gestational diabetes, Type I diabetes, obesity, chronic hypertension, renal disease, thrombophilias and stress are more likely to suffer from pre-eclampsia related problems.
Magnesium sulfate has commonly been used as the medication of choice for the prevention of eclamptic seizures in women with severe pre-eclampsia and for the treatment of women with eclamptic seizures.