Elevated Blood Pressure and Stage 1 Hypertension in Pregnancy: A Review of the Literature

Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2022 Jul;77(7):415-422. doi: 10.1097/OGX.0000000000001040.


Importance: Maternal and perinatal morbidity/mortality is significantly increased in pregnancies complicated by hypertension. The definition of hypertension has recently changed with the addition of 2 categories: elevated blood pressure (BP) and stage 1 hypertension. Should these categories be considered during pregnancy?

Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of the new hypertensive categories of elevated BP and stage 1 hypertension on maternal/perinatal outcomes.

Methods: Literature search of PubMed, Web of Science, and CINAHL search was undertaken. Citations were limited to the past 20 years.

Results: Of the 333 articles identified, 26 articles were the basis of this review. In 2017, new guidelines on the diagnosis and management of hypertension were published. Prepregnancy hypertension was replaced by elevated BP (systolic BP 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic BP <80 mm Hg) and stage 1 hypertension (systolic BP 130-139 mm Hg and diastolic BP 80-89 mm Hg). The risk factors for elevated BP and stage 1 hypertension are similar to chronic hypertension (CHTN) risk factors, diagnosed by BP readings before pregnancy or before 20 weeks' gestation. Patients with elevated BP and stage 1 hypertension are at increased risk for hypertensive disorders of pregnancies compared with normal patients. Treatment strategies for elevated BP and stage 1 hypertension are uncertain. Before 2017, these patients would not have been considered hypertensive and no guidelines existed.

Conclusions: Elevated BP and stage 1 hypertension increase the number of women labeled with hypertension in pregnancy. These women are at increased risk for adverse perinatal and maternal outcomes. There are currently no firm guidelines on management during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors