Font Size
A
A
A
2
...

Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy (cont.)

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.


Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.
High Blood Pressure: Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home

Cause

The causes of preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy are poorly understood. In fact, preeclampsia is sometimes called the "disease of theories," and its cause is the subject of active research.1

Preeclampsia may start with a poorly developed placenta that doesn't circulate blood normally. But the cause of the placenta disorder isn't yet clear. Nor is it known why the mother's body then develops high blood pressure. So far, a number of possible factors are thought to play a part in preeclampsia, including:

  • Family history (genetics). The tendency to develop preeclampsia may run in families. Inherited factors (genes) seem to make a woman more likely to develop preeclampsia.
  • An abnormal immune system response. Preeclampsia occurs most often in women who are pregnant for the first time and in women who have been pregnant before but now have a first pregnancy with a different man. Exposure to an antigen from the father (in the growing placenta or fetus, for example) may trigger an immune response in the woman's body. This immune response may result in narrowing of the blood vessels throughout the body, causing higher blood pressure and other problems.
  • A biochemical factor that causes the blood vessels to narrow, raising blood pressure. Preeclampsia may be the body's reaction to the poorly functioning placenta. Or both the poorly developed placenta and preeclampsia symptoms may be caused by the same factor. This process is not yet well understood.
  • Diabetes or other diseases affecting blood vessels. Conditions that cause blood vessel problems (such as lupus, preexisting high blood pressure, or diabetes) may increase the risk of preeclampsia.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.






Parenting Know-How: We've hand-picked our best pregnancy, baby and parenting content just for you

Medical Dictionary