Hypertension In Women

Including hypertension in women causes and treatment

Hypertension in women is a matter of particular concern due to significantly different circumstances under which it occurs in women. Blood pressure definition links hypertension to the force with which blood hits vessel walls whilst in circulation. For both men and women in much of the western countries, hypertension is a leading contributor to morbidity and mortality as hypertension statistics will show.

This is essentially because of its role as a major cause of cardiovascular disease. The special interest in hypertension amongst women does not in anyway take away from the fact that overall men have a higher prevalence of high blood pressure than women. In addition men have a higher diastolic blood pressure than women. The main point of concern that necessitates further study and interest in high blood pressure in women is the fact that hypertension is extremely prevalent in older women.

It is an established fact that right through middle age high blood pressure is higher among males than females. The tendency is for blood pressure in women to rise above that of men beyond the age of 59. This apparent cross-over in blood pressure numbers between men and women past age 60 is a matter of controversy.

Causes of Hypertension In Women

Studies have so far pointed to the role of estrogen in keeping blood pressure in younger women below the age of 59 lower than that of their male counterparts. In essence the existence of this gender difference in blood pressure is unknown and still remains a matter of further and ongoing study. Some studies have suggested an important role played by menopause in raising blood pressure. This is an attempt to explain the rising blood pressure in women above that of men beyond the age of 59.

Longitudinal studies done could not endorse the suspected role of menopause in raising blood pressure in older women. On the other hand other studies, cross-sectional in approach, have established remarkably higher systolic and diastolic pressures in women in menopause compared to those before menopause. Some doctors believe the prevalence of hypertension in women in menopause coincides with other factors responsible for elevated blood pressure.

These factors will include weight gain probably linked to decrease in activity and increase in alcohol intake. Science has already made an association between exercise and blood pressure as well as alcohol and high blood pressure. Estrogen an ovarian hormone that ceases to operate at menopause is still a subject of study in as far as its role in raising prevalence of hypertension in women is concerned.

Some studies indicate that this hormone plays an important role in regulating blood pressure responses to stress. As it stands postmenopausal women and men tend to show stress induced blood pressure spikes than postmenopausal women. Moving on obesity or being overweight has always been a pertinent consideration when it comes to causes of high blood pressure.

As a matter of fact middle-aged women have a higher obesity prevalence compared to men. Further, doctors already know that body weight has a greater influence on blood pressure in females than in males. It can be noted that a significant amount of high blood pressure in women is due to obesity. Doctors have hypertension classified into two namely primary hypertension and secondary hypertension based on the causes of hypertension.

The causes of secondary hypertension amongst women are similar to causes found in men of the same. These secondary hypertension causes are namely liver disease, kidney disease and heart disease. Despite hypertension in the context of women being a disease mostly associated with older women other types of hypertension such as renovascular hypertension is primarily a disease for younger women.

In particular, renovascular hypertension occurring in the context of gestational hypertension in pregnant women may lead to pregnancy complications. The use of oral contraceptives is still considered an important contributor to hypertension in women. Oral contraceptives even those on the market today with less doses of estrogen and progestin have been shown in studies to increase both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. The impact and risk of hypertension from use of these contraceptives elevates with age, duration of use and increase in weight.

Treating Hypertension In women

Of significance are findings in a study showing that the frequently recommended lifestyle changes might produce less blood pressure control in women. This is particularly because women are less successful in losing weight compared to men. Weight reduction remains an important yet necessary method of gaining control over hypertension.

In as far as dietary changes are concerned, women have been shown to respond more positively to salt reduction than men. Just as high blood pressure meds are equally applicable in men so are they in women. The only concern is that there are various gender specific side effects of medications. Bio-chemical response to hypertension medications can be gender specific.

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