Did you know that “hypertension” and high blood pressure, often used interchangeably, is really the same thing? Patients often misunderstand the truth about hypertension, thinking it is brought on by stress, anxiety or other emotional occurrences in one’s life. In reality, hypertension is a physiological dysfunction that researchers have found can turn into a chronic disease if left alone and untreated.
A simple blood pressure test, which usually happens as soon as you sit on the doctor’s table prior to a check-up, tells your physician what your systolic pressure is as the heart pumps blood out as well as the diastolic pressure while your heart relaxes and refills with blood. This is measured in mercury millimeters (mmHg). Making your weekly trip to the grocery store? Most pharmacies and groceries also offer reliable and free testing stations to make sure your blood pressure is what it should be based on normal blood pressure ranges. Normal blood pressure ranges are below 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. 120 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 diastolic are deemed “pre-hypertension”, increasing your risk of hypertension without intervention. Above 140 and 90? Hypertension has occurred.
A recent study that appeared in the Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease Journal found that 1 in 3 adults in the US have high blood pressure. Previous studies thought that high blood pressure and hypertension was the same whether the test subject was a man or a woman. This most recent study discovered that women, compared with men who had the same level of blood pressure, had increased vascular disease…in the whereabouts of 30-40%! One reason researchers believe hypertension in women can be more severe is the fact that there are physiologic differences in the cardiovascular system to include types of hormone levels that help regulate a woman’s blood pressure.
So, what can you do to stay healthy and prevent stroke and heart disease?
Because hypertension can build up for years without showing symptoms, it’s important to get regular check-ups. It’s a growing epidemic and researchers believe that diet and lifestyle changes need to be made to combat this deadly trend. Excessive alcohol, salt intake in the foods American’s eat as well as lack of exercise all leads to higher blood pressure and hypertension. Smoking is also detrimental to a healthy lifestyle and keeping your blood pressure under control. Women during the menopausal years will also see a rise in their blood pressure as a result of hormonal imbalances. In some circumstances, balancing the hormonal levels can normalize blood pressure. It also seems that younger adults are battling with high blood pressure, getting diagnosed as early as their 20s and 30s. Starting a wellness plan early, exercising and eating right, will decrease your chances of developing high blood pressure and vascular disease.
With the new findings, women need to make sure they are combining regular check-ups with regular physical activity. Many times, women are focused on taking care of the other family members, often neglecting their own health. Because hypertension can creep up silently and without warning symptoms, it’s important to take the new research “to heart”. Treatment of hypertension in women may require earlier diagnosis as well as more aggressive management than what was previously thought to be acceptable. Heart disease, unfortunately, is now the leading cause of death in women.
If you want to learn more about hypertension in women or have questions, Dr. Raman can help.
Dr. Raman is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. Patients at her Concierge Medical Practice may benefit from bioidentical hormone therapy and a medically supervised weight management program to help ease the symptoms associated with progesterone and estrogen changes.