Hypertension in pregnancy is an emerging sex-specific risk factor for cardiovascular disease and may lead to more severe hypertension after pregnancy. The objectives of this study were to investigate the frequency of pregnancy-related hypertension among patients referred to a hypertension clinic and its association with the severity of hypertension and evidence of end-organ damage. In this cross-sectional study, women with hypertension were submitted to a systematic clinical evaluation. The occurrence of pregnancy-related hypertension was investigated by questionnaire. The association between pregnancy-related hypertension and severity of hypertension (stage 2 according to Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC VII)) and end-organ damage was assessed in a logistic regression model. The mean age, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) of the 768 women examined were 51.6 ± 12.7 years, 158.2 ± 26.6 mm Hg, 93.8 ± 14.3 mm Hg and 29.4 ± 5.6 kg/m2, respectively. The proportion of women with pregnancy-related hypertension was 32.9%. It was significantly associated with hypertension at stage 2 (OR: 1.60, 95% CI: 1.14-2.24;P=0.01) after controlling for confounders. The occurrence of a pregnancy-related hypertension was not associated with evidence of optic fundi abnormalities, left ventricular hypertrophy or abnormalities in kidney function. In conclusion, pregnancy-related hypertension is frequent in women referred to a hypertension clinic, and is associated with severe hypertension but not with evidence of end-organ damage.
Journal of Human Hypertension (2009) 23, 415-419; doi:10.1038/jhh.2008.140; published online 20 November 2008