Severe headaches during pregnancy may be a sign of more serious troubles especially when coupled with high blood pressure, says a recent study.
The study was conducted by American researchers at Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University published last week in the journal Neurology.
“Headaches during pregnancy are quite common, but it is not always easy to distinguish between a recurring, preexisting migraine condition and a headache caused by a pregnancy complication,” said lead author Dr. Matthew S. Robbins, director of inpatient services at Montefiore Headache Center and chief of neurology at Jack D. Weiler Hospital of Montefiore.
The study involved analyzing data, spanning five years, from 140 women who had been referred for a neurological consultation due to a headache. They found that, among the women who had secondary headaches – headaches that are caused by some other condition as opposed to primary headaches like migraines and cluster headaches – 51% were diagnosed with pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
For the 51% of women with headaches coupled with high blood pressure, their headache was 17 times more likely to have been caused by a pregnancy complication compared to those who only had a common headache. Notably, the study found that preeclampsia was that condition for 38% of women who had both headaches and high blood pressure.
Aside from high blood pressure, women who experience headaches during their pregnancy but who had no prior history of it should also be wary. These headaches are 5 times more likely to be a symptom of a pregnancy complication, according to the researchers. Other warning signs to watch out for include fever and seizures.
On the whole, it’s best to keep an eye on high blood pressure during pregnancy as preeclampsia isn’t the only thing to worry about.
“Chronic poorly-controlled high blood pressure before and during pregnancy puts a pregnant woman and her baby at risk for problems. It is associated with an increased risk for maternal complications such as preeclampsia, placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus), and gestational diabetes. These women also face a higher risk for poor birth outcomes such as preterm delivery, having an infant small for his/her gestational age, and infant death,” OB-Gyne specialist Dr. Nini G. Infortuno previously told Smart Parenting.
Source: Aug. 19, 2015. "Severe Headache in Pregnant Women: When to Worry". montefiore.org