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High Blood Pressure

Sudden high blood pressure after delivery

12/22/2008

Question:

I am 25 weeks old and I delivered my second baby 7 weeks ago and I have high blood pressure in which I am taking Labetalol (150 mg twice a day) and my BP is still about 130/95 with the medicine. All of my life I have always had very low blood pressure whenever I go to the doctor.

Three weeks before delivery I had severe chest pain that radiated up the right side of my neck and got much worse when laying on my left side. I was hospitalized for a few days in which they did an EKG and an ultrasound of my heart and they said everything was normal. My blood pressure was normal as well in the hospital. The pain went away 2 weeks later.

One week after delivery, I started having severe headaches and my hands started swelling. At about 4 weeks after having the baby, I checked by blood pressure after reading online that swelling and headaches can be from high blood pressure and it was 146 over 106. I called the doctor. They put me on Labetalol (100 mg twice a day) and did blood tests and urine tests and everything was normal. I just saw my OBGYN 3 days ago and my blood pressure was 150 over 110 and she called my regular doctor and they increased my Labetalol to 150 mg twice a day and now my blood pressure averages 130/95 at home. I still have really bad headaches every now and then. For the past couple of days, I`ve also noticed that when I sit up from laying down or if I stretch my arms in the air, I have a strange popping sound from directly below my left ribcage and it`s very painful. Does this indicate my kidneys are not performing correctly? Also, should more tests be done to find a reason for this sudden increase in blood pressure?

Answer:

If your blood pressure went up only following the delivery of your baby, you probably have postpartum hypertension.  This is a benign condition, and your blood pressure should become normal again within six months.

If your blood pressure stays high for longer than six months, you will need a work-up to find other possible causes of your hypertension.  It is also possible that you developed regular (essential) hypertension, and that the timing of your delivery is a coincidence.  Again, if your blood pressure stays high for longer than six months, you will need to be seen by a specialist for an evaluation.

For more information:

Go to the High Blood Pressure health topic, where you can:

Response by:

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