A healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy mother-to-be. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Get more calcium
Supplement with 1,200 to 1,500 mg a day to reduce risk
Mix in some magnesium
Take a 300 mg per day of this essential mineral to help prevent gestational hypertension or reduce its severity
Address your stress
Try meditation, counseling, and other methods that can ease the stress that contributes to gestational hypertension
Manage your medications
If you’re taking blood pressure medication, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine if you should increase your intake of potassium
Go for routine checkups
See your pregnancy caregiver for blood-pressure checks and other important tests
About This Condition
Gestational hypertension (GH) is high blood pressure that develops after the twentieth week of pregnancy and returns to normal after delivery, in women with previously
normal blood pressure.
GH may be an early sign of either preeclampsia or chronic hypertension. If these complications do not develop, or if chronic
hypertension develops but remains mild, the outcome of pregnancy is usually good for both the mother and
newborn. GH has been shown to occur more frequently in women who are obese1 or in those who are
glucose-intolerant.2, 3, 4
Symptoms, which appear after the twentieth week of pregnancy, include swelling of the face and hands, visual disturbances, headache, high blood pressure, and a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
In GH, regular checkups during pregnancy and after delivery are needed for the prevention and early detection of preeclampsia and chronic hypertension.5, 6, 7
Job stress (lack of control over work pace and the timing and frequency of breaks) has been reported to be detrimental; therefore, reducing job stress may be beneficial in the prevention of GH.8 In a preliminary study, women exposed to high job stress were found to be at greater risk of developing GH than were women with low job stress.9
The common practice of prescribing bed rest for women with GH has been questioned by some researchers.10 In the few studies examining this issue, results have been inconsistent.11, 12 While one controlled study found that bed rest reduced progression of GH to severe hypertension,13 evidence is currently insufficient to determine whether bed rest reduces blood pressure in women with GH.
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
Eating more fish has been associated with reduced risk of gestational hypertension.
Increased consumption of fish was associated with reduced risk of GH in one preliminary study.14 In this study, the incidence of hypertension during pregnancy was significantly higher in women from communities with lower consumption of fish and lower in women from communities with high fish consumption.
No need to cut salt
Unlike salt restriction in primary hypertension, a low-salt diet has not been shown to have a significant effect in reducing high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Unlike salt restriction in primary hypertension, a low-salt diet has not been shown to have a significant effect in reducing high blood pressure during pregnancy.15, 16, 17 As a result, salt restriction is not recommended to women with GH.18
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
1,200 to 1,500 mg daily
Calcium deficiency has been implicated as a possible cause of GH.19, 20 In two preliminary studies, women who developed GH were found to have significantly lower dietary calcium intake than did pregnant women with normal blood pressure.21, 22 Calcium supplementation has significantly reduced the incidence of GH in preliminary studies23 and in many,24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 though not all,30 double-blind trials. Calcium supplements may be most effective in preventing GH in women who have low dietary intake of calcium. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends an intake of 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium daily during normal pregnancy.31 In women at risk of GH, studies showing reduced incidence have typically used 2,000 mg of supplemental calcium per day,32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 without any reported maternal or fetal side effects.38, 39 Nonetheless, many doctors continue to suggest amounts no higher than 1,500 mg per day.
300 mg daily
Magnesium deficiency has also been implicated as a possible cause of GH.40, 41, 42 Dietary intake of magnesium is below recommended levels for many women during pregnancy.43, 44 Magnesium supplementation has been reported to reduce the incidence of GH in preliminary45 and many double-blind trials.46, 47 In addition to preventing GH, magnesium supplementation has also been reported to reduce the severity of established GH in one study.48 Amounts used in studies on GH range from 165 to 365 mg of supplemental magnesium per day.
Refer to label instructions
Zinc supplementation (20 mg per day) was reported to reduce the incidence of GH in one double-blind trial studying a group of low-income Hispanic pregnant women who were not zinc deficient.49
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Lipworth L. Comparison of risk factors for preeclampsia and gestational hypertension in a population-based
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2. Caruso A, Ferrazzani S, De Carolis S, et al. Gestational hypertension but not
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9. Marcoux S, Berube S, Brisson C, Mondor M. Job strain and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Epidemiology 1999;10:376–82.
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11. Herrera JA. Nutritional factors and rest reduce pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia in positive roll-over test primigravidas. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1993;41:31–5.
12. Mathews DD. A randomized controlled trial of bed rest and sedation or normal activity and non-sedation in the management of non-albuminuric hypertension in late pregnancy. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1997;84:108–14.
13. Crowther CA, Bouwmeester AM, Ashurst HM. Does admission to hospital for bed rest prevent disease progression or improve fetal outcome in pregnancy complicated by non-proteinuric hypertension? Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1992;99:13–7.
14. Popeski D, Ebbeling LR, Brown PB, et al. Blood pressure during pregnancy in Canadian Inuit: community differences related to diet. CMAJ 1991;145:445–54.
15. Franx A, Steegers EA, de Boo T, et al. Sodium-blood pressure interrelationship in pregnancy. J Hum Hypertens 1999;13:159–66.
16. van der Maten GD. Low sodium diet in pregnancy: effects on maternal nutritional status. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1995;61:63–4.
17. Steegers EA, Van Lakwijk HP, Jongsma HW, et al. (Patho)physiological implications of chronic dietary sodium restriction during pregnancy; a longitudinal prospective randomized study. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1991;98:980–7.
18. Moutquin JM, Garner PR, Burrows RF, et al. Report of the Canadian Hypertension Society Consensus Conference: 2. Nonpharmacologic management and prevention of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. CMAJ 1997;157:907–19.
19. Leela R, Yasodhara P, Ramaraju MBBS, Ramaraju LA. Calcium and magnesium in pregnancy. Nutr Res 1991;11:1231–6.
20. Prada JA, Ross R, Clark KE. Hypocalcemia and pregnancy-induced hypertension produced by maternal fasting. Hypertension 1992;20:620–6.
21. Marcous S, Brisson J, Fabia J. Calcium intake from dairy products and supplements and the risk of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension. Am J Epidemiol 1991;133:1226–72.
22. Ortega RM, Martinez RM, Lopez-Sobaler AM, et al. Influence of calcium intake on gestational hypertension. Ann Nutr Metab 1999;43:37–46.
23. Bucher HC, Guyatt GH, Cook RJ, et al. Effect of calcium supplementation on pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA 1996;275:1113–7.
24. Bucher HC, Guyatt GH, Cook RJ, et al. Effect of calcium supplementation on pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA 1996;275:1113–7.
25. Lopez-Jaramillo P, Narvaez M, Weigle RM, Yepez R. Calcium supplementation reduces the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension in an Andes population. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1989;96:648–55.
26. Cong K, Chi S, Lui G. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for reducing pregnancy induced hypertension. Chin Med J 1995;108:57–9.
27. Purwar M, Kulkarni, H, Motghare V, Dhole S. Calcium supplementation and prevention of pregnancy induced hypertension. J Obstet Gynaecol Res 1996;22:425–30.
28. Belizán JM, Villar J, Gonzalez L, et al. Calcium supplementation to prevent hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. N Engl J Med 1991;325:1399–405.
29. Sanchez-Ramos L, Briones DK, Kaunitz AM, et al. Prevention of pregnancy-induced hypertension by calcium supplementation in angiotensin II-sensitive patients. Obstet Gynecol 1994;84:349–53.
30. Levine RJ, Hauth JC, Curet LB, et al. Trial of calcium to prevent preeclampsia. N Engl J Med 1997;337:69–76.
31. NIH Consensus Development Panel on Optimal Calcium Intake. Optimal calcium intake. Nutrition 1995;11:409–17.
32. Moutquin JM, Garner PR, Burrows RF, et al. Report of the Canadian Hypertension Society Consensus Conference: 2. Nonpharmacologic management and prevention of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. CMAJ 1997;157:907–19.
33. Cong K, Chi S, Lui G. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for reducing pregnancy induced hypertension. Chin Men J 1995;108:57–9.
34. Bucher HC, Guyatt GH, Cook RJ, et al. Effect of calcium supplementation on pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA 1996;275:1113–7.
35. Lopez-Jaramillo P, Narvaez M, Weigel RM, Yepez R. Calcium supplementation reduces the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension in an Andes population. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1989;96:648–55.
36. Purwar M, Julkarni H, Motghare V, Dhole S. Calcium supplementation and prevention of pregnancy induced hypertension. J Obstet Gynaecol Res 1996;22:425–30.
37. Sanchez-Ramos L, Briones DK, Kaunitz AM, et al. Prevention of pregnancy-induced hypertension by calcium supplementation in angiotensin II-sensitive patients. Obstet Gynecol 1994;84:349–53.
38. Moutquin JM, Garner PR, Burrows RF, et al. Report of the Canadian Hypertension Society Consensus Conference: 2. Nonpharmacologic management and prevention of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. CMAJ 1997;157:907–19.
39. Cong K, Chi S, Lui G. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for reducing pregnancy induced hypertension. Chin Men J 1995;108:57–9.
40. Wynn A, Wynn M. Magnesium and other nutrient deficiencies as possible causes of hypertension and low birthweight. Nutr Health 1988;6:69–88.
41. Conradt A. Current concepts in the pathogenesis of gestosis with special reference to magnesium deficiency. Z Geburtshilfe Perinatol 1984;188:49–58 [review] [in German].
42. Leela R, Yasodhara P, Ramaraju MBBS, Ramaraju LA. Calcium and magnesium in pregnancy. Nutr Res 1991;11:1231–6.
43. Makrides M, Crowther CA. Magnesium supplementation in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;2:CD000937 [review].
44. Wynn A, Wynn M. Magnesium and other nutrient deficiencies as possible causes of hypertension and low birthweight. Nutr Health 1988;6:69–88.
45. Wynn A, Wynn M. Magnesium and other nutrient deficiencies as possible causes of hypertension and low birthweight. Nutr Health 1988;6:69–88.
46. Li S, Tian H. Oral low-dose magnesium gluconate preventing pregnancy induced hypertension. Chung Hua Fu Chan Ko Tsa Chih 1997;32:613–5 [in Chinese].
47. D’Almeida A, Caretr JP, Anatol A, Prost C. Effects of a combination of evening primrose oil (gamma linolenic acid) and fish oil (eicosapentaenoic + docosahexaenoic acid) versus magnesium, and versus placebo in preventing pre-eclampsia. Women Health 1992;19:117–31.
48. Rudnicki M, Frolich A, Rasmussen WF, McNair P. The effect of magnesium on maternal blood pressure in pregnancy-induced hypertension. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1991;80:445–50.
49. Hunt IF, Murphy NJ, Cleaver AE, et al. Zinc supplementation during pregnancy: effects on selected blood constituents and on progress and outcome of pregnancy in low-income women of Mexican descent. Am J Clin Nutr 1984;40:508–21.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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