High blood pressure during pregnancy may lead to stroke later on

Hypertension, a condition more commonly known as high blood pressure, has been a known risk for women during pregnancy for a long time. However, new research shows that preventing this condition may be even more important than previously believed, as it may significantly increase a woman's risk of experiencing a stroke during her lifetime.

Medical researchers looked at nine separate studies revolving around pregnancy, hypertension and future stroke risk. Studies followed women from one to 32 years after the pregnancy and determined that those who had experienced hypertension while they were expecting were more likely to experience a stroke later on in life.

"We've found that women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy could be at higher risk of stroke, particularly if they had preeclampsia, which is a more severe form of high blood pressure," said Aravind Ganesh, M.D., a neurology resident at the University of Calgary. "The elevated risk of stroke could be as high as 40 [percent]."

Though this link is known, there is no current recommendation for stroke-related screening or other preventative courses of action.

According to researchers, high blood pressure is among the top health concerns facing pregnant woman today. It affects between 2 to 3 percent of all pregnancies. In addition to increasing a woman's risk of stroke, it can also contribute to a serious condition known as preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a birth-related complication that can occur in the last weeks of pregnancy right until labor, and can result in fatality of mother and/or child. While once considered nothing but deadly, medical technology has advanced to the point where the condition can be controlled if promptly and properly diagnosed and treated.

How to reduce the risk of high blood pressure during your pregnancy
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of hypertension and related complications is to check your diet. Make sure you're drinking lots of water and eating the right nutritional foods. While you should be getting increased amounts of vitamins and essential nutrients to ensure healthy baby development, this is even more important if you're at risk of high blood pressure. It's also important to make sure you get the recommended amount of sleep every night.

In addition, keeping stress levels low by engaging in relaxing activities such as reading, light exercise and even a cozy bubble bath is a good idea.

What are some other ways to relax and keep stress levels low during pregnancy? Let us know your favorites in the comments section.