Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy. Academic Article Review uri icon


  • Elevated blood pressure in pregnancy may represent chronic hypertension (occurring before 20 weeks' gestation or persisting longer than 12 weeks after delivery), gestational hypertension (occurring after 20 weeks' gestation), preeclampsia, or preeclampsia superimposed on chronic hypertension. Preeclampsia is defined as hypertension and either proteinuria or thrombocytopenia, renal insufficiency, impaired liver function, pulmonary edema, or cerebral or visual symptoms. Proteinuria is not essential for the diagnosis and does not correlate with outcomes. Severe features of preeclampsia include a systolic blood pressure of at least 160 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure of at least 110 mm Hg, platelet count less than 100 × 103 per µL, liver transaminase levels two times the upper limit of normal, a doubling of the serum creatinine level or level greater than 1.1 mg per dL, severe persistent right upper-quadrant pain, pulmonary edema, or new-onset cerebral or visual disturbances. Preeclampsia without severe features can be managed with twice-weekly blood pressure monitoring, antenatal testing for fetal well-being and disease progression, and delivery by 37 weeks' gestation. Preeclampsia with any severe feature requires immediate stabilization and inpatient treatment with magnesium sulfate, antihypertensive drugs, corticosteroids for fetal lung maturity if less than 34 weeks' gestation, and delivery plans. Preeclampsia can worsen or initially present after delivery. Women with hypertensive disorders should be monitored as inpatients or closely at home for 72 hours postpartum.

publication date

  • January 2016