Blood pressure above 140/90 is not considered normal even during pregnancy. And sadly 1 out of 20 pregnant women suffer from this problem. Gestational hypertension or pregnancy induced hypertension is the primary cause of preeclampsia. And that is perhaps the greatest difference that women should know. Both are characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy. However, gestational hypertension can be controlled to prevent the same from leading to preeclampsia or toxemia.
-- High blood pressure is something that is easily monitored during the early stages of pregnancy and an attempt to control the same should be made. If not, it leads to protein in the urine or proteinuria, which is the earliest symptom of preeclampsia. High blood pressure would not cause the same.
-- Preeclampsia usually happens after 20th week of pregnancy. So watch out for signs like excessive swelling, urination, drastic weight gain around this period. Also, the problem may arise post delivery of the baby too.
-- Also, preeclampsia would affect the health of the unborn baby. If growth is slow it could be due to poor blood supply via the placenta. Gestational hypertension would not impact the baby growth. However, with preeclampsia ‘intra-uterine growth restriction’, or ‘intra-uterine growth retardation’ is always there.
-- Preeclampsia is cured only post delivery. Though measures to control and minimize the problem are available, you cannot really heal the mother till the baby is delivered.
-- Along with the above, one might experience acute kidney problems during preeclampsia followed by headaches, which are not that common for women suffering from gestational hypertension.
As a layman, you might not really understand these symptoms and differences too well. What you could be considering as normal pregnancy symptoms followed by hypertension could be something more. So getting in touch with your gynecologist or health care provider is highly suggested.