High blood pressure during pregnancy, also known as preeclampsia or gestational hypertension, is a condition that can develop at any time during pregnancy.

To learn more, see our video about preeclampsia. 

Preeclampsia Information for Patients

What are the symptoms of Preeclampsia?

Pregnant women who have preeclampsia may experience the following:

  • Headache
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Abdominal pain

Is Preeclampsia harmful?

  • For unborn babies, preeclampsia can be harmful because it may cause the baby to grow more slowly and can cause preterm (early) birth
  • For pregnant moms, preeclampsia can lead to seizures, decrease in organ function, and in some cases, death

Who is at risk?

  • Preeclampsia affects 1 out of every 20 pregnancies.
  • At BMC, 3 out of 10 women have high blood pressure in pregnancy.

Women at high risk of developing preeclampsia include:

  • History of high blood pressure (chronic or in pregnancy)
  • History of diabetes
  • Women pregnant with twins or triplets
  • History of kidney problems
  • Having an autoimmune disease

Moderate risk factors for developing preeclampsia include:

  • First pregnancy
  • High body fat (BMI>30)
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • Women who are African American/Black
  • Women are 35 or older
  • Previously had a baby with low birth weight
  • It’s been more than 10 years since having a previous baby

How can at-risk patients prevent complications from preeclampsia?

Prenatal aspirin (aka low-dose baby, or 81mg aspirin) is recommended for women whose pregnancies are at a moderate or high-risk of developing preeclampsia. When that is the case, taking aspirin will not harm mom or her unborn baby.

Benefits of prenatal aspirin

  • Safe for mom and baby
  • Works within the placenta
  • Lowers risk of premature birth
  • Lowers risk of baby being low birthweight

Patients should speak with their provider to see if they may be a good candidate for prenatal aspirin.

Information about Preeclampsia for Medical Professionals

The Prenatal Aspirin Project at Boston Medical Center is a Quality Improvement initiative that aims to increase awareness and education of aspirin during pregnancy. Our 2018 goals include increasing prescription rates for all at-risk women to 90%, while engaging with pharmacists, patients, and community stakeholders to increase acceptance of prenatal aspirin. 

Learn more and access useful at www.prenatalaspirin.com

Departments and Programs Who Treat This Condition



When it is time to decide where baby will be born, BMC is an excellent choice. Comprehensive obstetric care is provided at BMC and at affiliated Community Health Centers. Prenatal…

Obstetrics and Gynecology

As a leader in women’s health, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology offers full-spectrum gynecology care, as well as programs and services for every aspect of pregnancy and…