There are many chronic conditions that may affect your health and introduce additional risk factors into your pregnancy. Below are some of the most common chronic conditions that affect women.
High Blood Pressure
Did you know that approximately one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure? This condition, also known as hypertension, can affect your health in many different ways. Kidney damage, heart disease, and strokes may all result from high blood pressure (HBP)1.
There are certain populations that are at higher risk for HBP. Some of the most common risk factors include2:
• Men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55
• People with a family history of high blood pressure
• Individuals that consume too much alcohol or too much sodium
• Lack of physical activity
In addition, African Americans experience HBP more often than Hispanic Americans or Caucasians.
It is important to discuss your risk factors for HBP with your physician. If diagnosed with HBP, your physician can help you manage this condition.
High Blood Pressure and Pregnancy
HBP may result in the condition preeclampsia during pregnancy. This is a condition that is a leading cause of fetal complications such as premature birth, low birth weight, and fetal death. The condition can advance in the mother and become eclampsia, which is when seizures develop and is the second leading cause of maternal death in the United States.
HBP can also develop during pregnancy. It is important to speak with your doctor about your risks for HBP and how to best manage the condition before, during and after pregnancy3.
For more information on High Blood Pressure please see these resources:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About High Blood Pressure
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: High Blood Pressure
American Heart Association: High Blood Pressure
Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce insulin or properly use it in order to break down foods such as sugar and starches into energy4. There are different forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Approximately eight percent of Americans have diabetes. Should you be concerned that you are or could become one of them? Take the quiz on this page to find out about your risk level for diabetes.
There are several different health complications that can result from diabetes. Heart disease, high blood pressure, amputations, blindness, and kidney disease are only a few of the complications to your health that may result from diabetes. To learn more about diabetes, management of the condition, and what health complications may result take a look at the National Diabetes Fact Sheet and other resources on the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Statistics page.
If you have diabetes, speak to your health care provider to establish a disease management plan. This is important in controlling your diabetes and working to prevent health complications that can result from the condition.
Diabetes and Pregnancy
If diabetes in managed properly, your pregnancy can have the same risk level as that of a woman without diabetes. It is important to factor in diabetes management to your reproductive life plan. This can help prevent certain complications that may occur during pregnancy and affect both you and your baby.
Gestational diabetes develops when you are pregnant. This can be managed much as type 1 and type 2, by exercising, eating healthy foods, and taking medication when needed. Make sure that you know your risks for developing gestational diabetes and talk to your doctor about signs and symptoms of the condition.
For more information on type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes including risk factors, potential complications, and management, go to the following websites:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Diabetes Public Health Resource
All About Diabetes on the American Diabetes Association website provides lots of useful information. They also have information on Diabetes and Pregnancy.
The Mayo Clinic also has additional information on gestational diabetes.