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Low blood pressure in pregnant women may be dangerous

Insufficient blood pressure can restrict blood supply to the brain and other organs, causing people to feel lightheaded.
March 7, 2014 12:18:38 PM PST
Most people would envy Carly Fostakowsky's low blood pressure reading, but during her first few months of pregnancy it dropped nearly 20 points.

"There were a few close calls where I was literally blacking out as I was getting up out of bed in the morning," Fostakowsky said.

Insufficient blood pressure can restrict critical blood supply to the brain and other organs, causing people to feel weak.

"It is very dangerous for a pregnant woman because they can be very lightheaded," Cardiologist Nicole Weinberg said. "They can faint."

Weinberg added low pressure is often overlooked and mistaken for balance and inner ear disorders. Medications are a common reason for dangerously low blood pressure, experts say.

"They've been given a diagnosis of hypertension, thye've been put on medication to lower blood pressure. And now they're blood pressure is too low," Weinberg said.

While there are many causes for low blood pressure, diseases that affect heart rate, such as blood flow and blood vessel flexibility, can result in this condition.

Treatment for low blood pressure depends on what's causing it. For Fostakowsky, her doctors have advised her to use compression clothing and to keep herself well hydrated. She's also getting more salt in her diet.

Fostakowsky's says the most important thing she's learned is to understand her own body.

People should "be aware of different things [they] can do if they're ever feeling faint, lightheaded or lethargic. It could be related to low blood pressure," Fostakowsky said.

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