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High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure after delivery

07/13/2009

Question:

I am 36 years old and deliverd my second child 2 weeks ago via c-section. Three days after deivery (while still in the hospital), I developed high blood pressure ( about 156/94). I was given Labetatol 200 mg/2x/day with little changes thus far. I did not have high blood pressure or preclampsia with either of my pregnancies. Can you tell me why this "postpartum hypertension" occurs and how long it should last?

Answer:

Postpartum hypertension can occur within two weeks of delivery and usually lasts less than six weeks.

If the high blood pressure persists for more than six weeks, another cause has to be looked for.  The patient may have developed essential hypertension, and the timing is unrelated to the pregnancy, or a secondary cause, such as renal artery stenosis (fibromuscular dysplasia), kidney disease or endocrine issues may be present.

The cause of postpartum hypertension is not known, but there is an indication that women with this syndrome have a slightly higher risk of developing hypertension later in life.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati