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High blood pressure may put some pregnancies at risk

April 16, 2018—Thinking about getting pregnant? Then you may want to keep a close eye on your blood pressure. Having higher blood pressure before you're expecting might raise your risk of a miscarriage, a study suggests.

Researchers looked at data from 1,228 healthy young women with a history of pregnancy loss but not high blood pressure. They measured their blood pressure before they were expecting and early in pregnancy. And they found that every 10-point increase in diastolic pressure—the bottom number on a blood pressure reading—was tied to an 18 percent raised risk of miscarriage. These findings highlight the need for future studies that focus on women who have not already lost pregnancies.

Still, the take-home message is clear: Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range before conception might provide some protection from miscarriage.

High blood pressure during pregnancy can also be dangerous. It can cause a condition called pre-eclampsia.

Know your numbers

High blood pressure doesn't cause symptoms. That's why the best way to know if you have healthy—or unhealthy—blood pressure is to get it checked. According to the American Heart Association, your blood pressure is considered high if it's 130 over 80 or higher.

8 ways to bring down blood pressure

If your blood pressure is high, the AHA recommends these steps to help control it:

1. Make smart food choices. Eat a low-salt diet that's rich in:

  • Fruit and veggies.
  • Whole grains.
  • Low-fat dairy products.
  • Skinless poultry and fish.
  • Nuts and legumes.
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils.

2. Know the risks of alcohol. Drinking may raise blood pressure.

3. Move more. Most people should get at least 2 ½ hours of moderately intense physical activity a week, such as brisk walking.

4. Tame tension. Talk out problems with a trusted friend or family member, don't sweat the small stuff and remember to laugh.

5. Watch the scale. Do your best to get to—or stay at—a healthy weight.

6. Don't light up. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help quitting.

7. Take blood pressure medicine properly. If your doctor advises any, take it exactly as prescribed. And remember: It isn't a substitute for healthy lifestyle changes.

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