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Blood Pressure

My wife is 34 weeks pregnant. We’re into the end-game, but her blood pressure has got a little high, so we’ve had two trips in three days to the Maternal Fetal Assessment Unit, where the staff have attempted to ascertain her blood pressure. It’s not as easy as it sounds. They’re most interested in her…

My wife is 34 weeks pregnant. We’re into the end-game, but her blood pressure has got a little high, so we’ve had two trips in three days to the Maternal Fetal Assessment Unit, where the staff have attempted to ascertain her blood pressure. It’s not as easy as it sounds. They’re most interested in her diastolic pressure (the lower of the two – the background pressure). A close eye needs to be kept on pregnant women with a diastolic pressure greater than 90 mmHg.

Weirdly, nobody can tell if it’s greater than 90 mmHg. Over the last few days, her blood pressure has been measured manually and automatically probably 20 or 30 times, and it’s varied from 79 mmHg to 114 mmHg. Although there’s a possibility of White Coat Hypertension I find it difficult to believe that her diastolic pressure has varied so much and so do the medical staff. So what’s going on? Possibilities include experimental error, over-sensitive equipment or poorly-calibrated equipment.

Most of the readings have wobbled around the 90 mmHg mark which is a problem – it’s too low to take action, but too high to ignore. It seems that the only option is to schedule a midwife visit every couple of days to take the readings, and to return to the MFAU if they appear high. This has happened twice this week already and if there’s anything likely to raise your blood pressure, it’s driving through cross-town traffic in Cambridge – and paying for parking at Addenbrooke’s hospital. Fortunately, I’m the designated driver.

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