Does Gestational Diabetes Cause High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure /hypertension in diabetes (including for gestational diabetes ‘GD’) is pretty common. In pregnancy, the presence of hypertension should be concerned as well. If left untreated, this can be potential to cause a condition called preeclampsia or even eclampsia (a potentially life-threatening condition). So, does GD cause high blood pressure?
To pump blood around the body, your heart needs an appropriate pressure. Blood pressure itself can be defined as the pressure of blood against the walls of blood vessels as your heart pump the blood around the body.
When your heart is beating (contracting), it pumps the blood through blood vessels and this increases the blood pressure. This mechanism is known as systolic pressure. After beating, your heart then relaxes and your blood pressure decreases (between your heart’s beats) – this is called as diastolic pressure. For in-depth information about how your blood pressure increases, visit this section!
If you check your blood pressure by a blood pressure monitor (sphygmometer), you will get two different numbers of the test result. The higher number points to your systolic pressure, and the lower number points to your diastolic pressure. For instance, if your test result shows 120 /70 mm Hg — 120 mm Hg is your systolic pressure and 70 mm Hg is diastolic pressure.
Over time, this can put you at high risk of developing some consequences such as nerve damage, kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and even eye disease.
Gestational diabetes (GD) might have a role to cause high blood pressure problem (hypertension)! In fact, hypertension and GD are often found together – particularly in pregnant women who have poor control on their gestational diabetes.
Over time, the high accumulation of glucose in the blood may cause narrowing and hardening arteries such as atherosclerosis. Narrowing arteries means that the blood doesn’t flow properly.
But the cause of hypertension in pregnancy can also vary from woman to woman. If you have chronic hypertension before pregnancy, your gestational hypertension is likely to be associated with it.
Furthermore, the pregnancy itself may have an effect in the fluctuation of blood pressure.
It seems there are many factors that cause gestational hypertension. Other factors such as; stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, and lack of physical activity would also have an effect.
While the link between GD and hypertension may be still debatable but experts believe that having GD during pregnancy would increase your risk of developing preeclampsia. But as long as you can control the condition as well, this complication is preventable!
Typically, preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure with other unusual symptoms (particularly such as excessively protein found in the urine). If you experience these following preeclampsia symptoms, see your doctor promptly [reference]: