New-Onset Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Rise Before, During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy rose from 9.22% in January 2018 to 12.15% in December 2021.

The incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy had increased before and during the pandemic, according to a new study.1

The serial cross-sectional study, led by Ian K. Everitt, MD, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, examined females, aged 15 – 44 years old, who had their first live birth. The team collected data from The National Center for Health Statistics Natality Data Files from 2018 – 2021, including self-reported maternal social determinants of health, such as education level, Medicaid insurance, and a measure of how rural a residence is. The sample of 5,246,061 pregnant individuals had 22.2% Hispanic, 7.4% non-Hispanic Asian, 13.3% non-Hispanic Black, and 53.8% non-Hispanic White.

The findings, presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2023 (AHA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, found that the incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy rose from 9.22% in January 2018 to 12.15% in December 2021—and nearly 1 in 8 individuals in 2021 had a pregnancy complicated by a hypertensive disorder. The rise of hypertensive disorders in pregnant women may have increased during the pandemic, but it was not a significant increase—there has been a steady rise without COVID-19’s influence.

In an interview with HCPLive, another investigator—Sadiya S. Khan, MD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine—discussed why pregnant women need to take care of themselves physically rather than excusing poor eating habits on “eating for two” or avoiding exercise because of the belief of it not being safe. She stressed myths on improving heart health during pregnancy need to be debunked.

“We know that less than half of people enter a pregnancy with sub optimal cardiovascular health, and that's very closely related with risk for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy,” Khan said. “One of the things from a clinician side—and really more from a policy side— is starting to work with people before they’re pregnant or focusing on promoting current health during pregnancy.”

Organizations like the American Association for Justice (AAJ) make strives to help heart diseases. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The Interventional Cardiology Litigation Group was formed in 2009, and they handle cases involving patients with known and unknown heart diseases.2

“We know that pregnancy is not just an important time for the birthing adult, but also for offspring,” Khan said. “[American Association for Justice] can have a huge impact and a huge footprint and is really doing an amazing job in advocating for maternal health, but also health equity in this in this space.”


  1. Interventional Cardiology. American Association for Justice. Accessed November 12, 2023.
  2. Everitt, I, Peesay, T, Huang, X, et al. Abstract 16425: Incidence of New-Onset Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Before and During the Early COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States, 2018-2021. November 6, 2023. Accessed November 12, 2023.,stratified%20by%20maternal%20SDoH%20groups.