Pregnancy loss or miscarriage is a nightmare for every expecting mother. It can be caused due to several reasons and one of them is hypertension before conception, according to a study.

The study that was published in the medical journal Hypertension looked into the various pregnancy-related risk factors associated with high blood pressure. The research found that there can be a 17 to 18 percent increased risk of miscarriage due to high blood pressure before pregnancy.

For the study, the researchers from the National Institutes of Health observed over 1,200 women aged between 18 and 40 years for several months. They began the study by checking the blood pressure readings of each of the participants before they became pregnant.

The researchers noted the blood pressure levels of all the participants again in their fourth week of pregnancy. When the academics analyzed the collected data, they found an increase in pregnancy loss for those women whose diastolic readings were above 80 mm Hg.

The study stated that nearly 25 percent of the participants had the diastolic reading of 80 mm Hg before pregnancy, but none of them had the diastolic reading above 90 mm Hg.

At the end of the study, the researchers also found that every 10 mm Hg increase in the diastolic reading was tied to 18 percent increased risk of pregnancy loss and every 10 mm Hg increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP) was associated with 17 percent greater risk of miscarriage.

“Elevated blood pressure is linked to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Our findings suggest that attaining a healthy blood pressure before pregnancy could not only have benefits later in life, but also reduce the chances for pregnancy loss,” lead researcher Enrique Schisterman, who is the chief of the Epidemiology Branch at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), said in a statement.

However, the study has its own limitations mainly because the researchers were unable to find a direct link between hypertension and pregnancy loss. They were just able to find a relationship between miscarriage and preconception blood pressure through statistical analysis.

When the researchers considered other factors that can lead to pregnancy loss, such as higher body mass index, increasing maternal age and smoking, the results were same, the researchers noted in the journal.

“Our results suggest that further research could help determine if treating elevated blood pressure and other health risks before conception improves pregnancy outcomes,” study’s first author Carrie Nobles said.