State-of-the-Art Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypertension in Pregnancy

Mayo Clin Proc. 2018 Nov;93(11):1664-1677. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.04.033.


Hypertension complicates up to 10% of pregnancies worldwide. Pregnancy hypertension is defined as systolic blood pressure (BP) equal to or greater than 140 mm Hg or diastolic BP equal to or greater than 90 mm Hg, usually on the basis of measurements in office/clinic settings and using various BP devices. Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are classified into (1) chronic hypertension diagnosed before pregnancy or before 20 weeks' gestation, (2) gestational hypertension diagnosed at equal to or greater than 20 weeks, or (3) preeclampsia, defined restrictively as gestational hypertension with proteinuria or broadly as gestational hypertension with proteinuria or an end-organ manifestation consistent with preeclampsia. Absolute BP values equal to or greater than 140/90 mm Hg are associated with increased maternal and perinatal risks, particularly with preeclampsia. This review focuses on antihypertensive therapy of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy as a specific management strategy. Underpinning this therapy is the need for accurate measurement of BP, agreed-upon classification of pregnancy hypertension, agreed-upon BP thresholds for enhanced surveillance and antihypertensive treatment, and collaborative teamwork in management. Challenges relate to the methodology of studies on which care is based, as well as aspects of the care itself, particularly the unregulated use of home BP monitoring. Pitfalls include the unsubstantiated belief that nifedipine and magnesium sulfate cannot be used together and the perception that severe hypertension and nonsevere hypertension are separate entities rather than lying along a spectrum of BP values. The following must be addressed by future research: guidance for nuanced care as women transition between severe and nonsevere hypertension, personalized antihypertensive therapy, and incorporation of women's values into research priorities and clinical practice when antihypertensive care is chosen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure Determination / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antihypertensive Agents