Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy, without protein in your urine. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure, protein in urine, and symptoms like swelling and headaches.
It’s common to confuse gestational hypertension with preeclampsia. They both involve elevated blood pressure during pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension is when you have high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy but no protein in your urine.
Preeclampsia is when you have high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy, protein in your urine, and symptoms such as swelling, blurry vision, and headaches.
Let’s look at the differences and similarities between these two conditions, along with how doctors diagnose and treat them.
Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This usually means you have more than one blood pressure reading above 140 mm Hg systolic and 90 mm Hg diastolic.
It’s relatively common to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. According to the
Preeclampsia develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It includes high blood pressure, protein in your urine, and symptoms like swelling, blurry vision, trouble breathing, and headaches. It can lead to serious complications for a pregnant person and their baby.
According to the CDC, preeclampsia occurs in about
The main similarity between gestational hypertension and preeclampsia is that they involve elevated blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension usually has no symptoms. It is detected when someone has multiple high blood pressure readings after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
On the other hand, preeclampsia usually presents with symptoms like an enduring headache and swelling in the hands and feet.
Preeclampsia also involves protein in your urine, whereas gestational hypertension does not.
Gestational hypertension can involve complications like low birth weight and preterm birth. The complications of preeclampsia are usually more serious.
Gestational hypertension rarely involves any noticeable symptoms. A high blood pressure reading is what detects gestational hypertension.
Preeclampsia symptoms vary from one person to another. Some possible symptoms include:
A doctor diagnoses gestational hypertension when you have at least two high blood pressure measurements, on two separate occasions, after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
According to recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), high blood pressure during pregnancy is defined as a systolic reading of over 140 mm Hg and a diastolic reading of over 80 mm Hg. Severe hypertension is when these readings are 160 mm Hg systolic and 110 mm Hg diastolic.
If your blood pressure reading is consistently high, your doctor will check for preeclampsia. This involves taking a urine sample and looking for high levels of protein in your urine.
Protein in urine, high blood pressure, and other typical preeclampsia symptoms are how preeclampsia is usually diagnosed.
Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia can affect healthy people without any known risks. Still, certain risk factors may make you more likely to develop these conditions.
- a history of elevated blood pressure before pregnancy
- kidney disease
- autoimmune disease
- preeclampsia in previous pregnancies
- history of HELLP syndrome
- pregnancy with multiples
- being over the age of 35
- first-time pregnancy
Preeclampsia shares many of the same risk factors as gestational hypertension. In addition to the above
- chronic high blood pressure before pregnancy
- history of thrombophilia, which elevates your risk of having blood clots
- getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization
Gestational hypertension is usually treated when your blood pressure readings are in the severe range, meaning they are over 160/110 mm Hg. If this happens, your doctor will prescribe blood pressure-lowering medication.
ACOG also recommends that people with preeclampsia be induced by 37 weeks of pregnancy. Additional treatments for preeclampsia include medications to lower blood pressure and magnesium sulfate to decrease the chances of seizures.
Receiving treatment and careful monitoring can decrease the chances of serious complications from gestational hypertension and preeclampsia.
Gestational hypertension usually goes away soon after birth, though it can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure later in life.
Preeclampsia usually goes away within 6 weeks after delivery, but sometimes more serious preeclampsia symptoms develop in the postpartum period.
How often does gestational hypertension turn into preeclampsia?
Roughly half of people with gestational hypertension will develop preeclampsia in their pregnancy.
Can you be diagnosed with preeclampsia even if you don’t have protein in your urine?
Yes. You may receive a diagnosis of preeclampsia, even if there is no protein in your urine, if you have elevated blood pressure along with other signs and symptoms, such as:
What is high blood pressure in early pregnancy called?
High blood pressure that develops before 20 weeks of pregnancy or before you are pregnant is called chronic hypertension.
Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is when you have high blood pressure, protein in your urine, and symptoms like blurry vision and swelling.
If you have any further questions about these conditions and how they relate to your health and pregnancy, reach out to a healthcare professional.