High blood pressure is an important component of pre-eclampsia. The underlying mechanism of development of hypertension in pre-eclampsia is complicated and still remains obscure. Several theories have been advanced including endothelial dysfunction, uteroplacental insufficiency leading to generalized vasoconstriction, increased cardiac output, and sympathetic hyperactivity. Increased blood flow and pressure are thought to lead to capillary dilatation, which damages end-organ sites, leading to hypertension, proteinuria and edema. Additional theories have been put forward based on epidemiological research, implicating immunological and genetic factors. None of these theories have been substantiated. Based on a review of literature this paper postulates that the initiating event for the development of pre-eclampsia is intermittent hypoxia associated with irregular breathing during sleep, hypoapnea, apnea, inadequate respiratory excursions during the waking hours and inadequate cardiopulmonary synchronization (abnormal sympatho-vagal balance).
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