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A study conducted by the BMC has revealed that hypertension is the second-largest killer of pregnant women, claiming more victims than even tuberculosis and sepsis (a life threatening ailment that can occur when the body reacts to an infection). Excessive bleeding was found to have caused the deaths of maximum pregnant women.

According to data collected by the civic body, out of the 248 pregnant women who died in the city's hospitals from April 2012 to January 2013, most (11 per cent) died due to excessive bleeding during and after childbirth and hepatitis, followed by 10 per cent due to hypertension, tuberculosis (8 per cent)and sepsis (5 per cent).The remaining were attributed to other medical conditions.

Hypertension affects a woman's organs during pregnancy. However, what medical experts dread is the onset of a serious condition called 'Preeclampsia', where the woman starts passing protein in her urine. The condition can affect the placenta as well as other vital organs like the kidneys, liver, and brain. It can also lead to convulsions or seizures. Medical experts pointed out that while there were cases of women have pre-existing hypertension (or high blood pressure), in a majority of the cases, they developed it during their pregnancy. "Pregnancy in many ways alters the mechanism of controlling blood pressure. Soone has to keep a constant watch on the patient's blood pressure," said Dr Y M Nandanwar, head of the gynaecology department of Sion Hospital, which performs 12,000 deliveries a year, the highest in the city. According to Dr Nandanwar, while BMC's data gave an overall picture, 50 per cent of the pregnant women coming to Sion hospital had hypertension. 

According to gynaecologist Dr Suchitra Pandit, attached to Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, early detection is the best way to prevent maternal deaths resulting from hypertension. "Constantly monitoring blood pressure and maintaining a chart would beideal.If the mother has a history on hypertension during the first birth, doctors can administer a low dose aspirin, which is an anti-platelet drug during her second pregnancy to delay the onset of severe hypertension," said Pandit. Blood pressure can also be controlled through lifestyle changes like reducing salt intake and exercise, advised Dr Nandanwar.


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