Scientists calculated rates of pre-pregnancy high blood pressure per 1,000 live births overall and by whether women lived in rural or urban communities. To compare yearly rates between each community, the annual percentage change was computed.
Results showed that women living in rural and urban areas had nearly double the rate of pre-pregnancy hypertension. Additionally, women ages 15-19 had lower high blood pressure rates than women ages 40-44 in both areas, but all age groups had a similar increase in rates from 2007 and 2018. For women in rural areas, the greatest annual percentage change of pre-pregnancy hypertension was nearly 10%; for women in urban areas, it was 9%.
“These data demonstrate unacceptable increases in the number of women with hypertension that need to be addressed urgently,” Cameron said. “Preventive care must start before pregnancy. This is especially important in rural communities where there is a far greater burden of high blood pressure and much higher risks to the health of mother and baby. We also must address the structural and systemic racism that can be barriers to high quality care.”
According to March of Dimes, high blood pressure usually has no symptoms or signs, so it’s important for women to attend all prenatal visits so a doctor can check for hypertension. Among the pregnancy complications that high blood pressure can cause are gestational diabetes, placental abruption and preeclampsia, where signs show some of a pregnant woman’s organs may not be working right.