In women 45 years of age or older, sixty percent of Caucasian women and seventy-nine percent of African-American women have hypertension. It is estimated that thirty percent of elderly women over 65 years are diagnosed with isolated systolic hypertension. Therefore, as you age your risk of developing high blood pressure increases drastically. Although the risk factors are similar between men and women, gender differences have not been documented conclusively by research studies.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke remain the leading causes of death in women in America. The risk of CVD increases after the onset of menopause and continues to rise with age. Since 1984, the total deaths due to CVD have been greater in women as compared to men.
Women taking oral contraceptives or hormone treatment can experience a small but detectable increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, usually in the normal range. If this rise in blood pressure occurs, women should talk to their doctors about a possible cause for the rise in blood pressure and what they can do about it. Women age 35 and older who smoke cigarettes and take oral contraceptives are at an even greater risk for heart disease and stroke. If they are unable to quit smoking, a woman should talk to their doctor about using other forms of birth control. Women who take hormone replacement therapy are urged to have their blood pressure monitored more frequently after such therapy is started.
Lifestyle modifications are a safe, effective treatment option for hypertension, yet they are underutilized by many healthcare providers, particularly in pre-and perimenopausal women. When you consider the alternative to making a change to your everyday life to aid in the treatment of hypertension and all the health dangers that can occur from this condition, the modifications aren’t such a bad idea.
Diets high in fiber and low in fat and animal protein tend to have a lower incidence of hypertension. Therefore, it is imperative that you eat a balanced diet to aid in the prevention of hypertension. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet investigators found that a combined diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products with reduced saturated fat can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. In addition, African-American subjects experienced a greater reduction in blood pressure than Caucasians but there were no significant differences in the extent of lowered blood pressure based on gender. Not only will this be of benefit to your blood pressure readings, it will let you shed a few pounds which is also encouraged by physicians in the treatment of hypertension.
Some women develop high blood pressure for the first time in the middle of their pregnancy. The mother develops toxemia of pregnancy, a condition that can threaten the lives of both the mother and unborn child. High blood pressure can harm the mother’s kidneys and other organs as well as cause low birth weight and premature delivery. Getting early and regular prenatal care is the most important thing you can do for you and your baby.
The caffeine in coffee, even in large amounts, has not been determined to have an adverse affect on the rise of high blood pressure but does not increase the risk of developing hypertension as much as cola drinks. When you drink beverages that contain caffeine, your blood pressure goes up in the immediate period afterwards although there are no conclusive results from studies to evaluate the effect of caffeine on blood pressure. If you aren’t totally dependent on that cup of coffee first thing in the morning, a wise move to make would be to drink a flavored or sparkling water beverage.