When you think of high blood pressure, you probably think of it as being a problem for men – but blood pressure for women is just as much of a concern. Because initial studies about heart disease were all conducted on men, people have the false idea that women aren’t as at risk.
However, women and men are equally at high risk for heart disease and heart disease is the number one killer of women – ahead of diseases such as breast cancer that often get more attention.
As a woman, it’s critical that you take care of your own health. Women are known for often putting the needs of others ahead of their own. But in the case of high blood pressure you could be doing yourself a major disservice.
Women do have some special considerations when it comes to maintaining appropriate blood pressure and heart health. For example, you have a lower risk of heart disease than men until you reach menopause.
However, after menopause women are actually more likely than men to have high blood pressure and heart disease. This is a result of changes in hormones that once protected the heart and now leave you more vulnerable to heart disease.
Taking birth control pills can also make you more vulnerable to high blood pressure. While birth control doesn’t always cause high blood pressure, it can. It’s important to monitor your blood pressure regularly if you’re taking the pill.
Pregnancy and high blood pressure is also a concern. If you have high blood pressure before getting pregnant it’s important to talk with your doctor about the risks for you. Pregnancy can cause blood pressure to rise and cause complications.
It’s always best to get your blood pressure under control before getting pregnant if possible. That means eating a diet low in sodium, getting your weight as close to ideal as possible, and regularly exercising.
If you’ve been prescribed blood pressure medication, it’s important to make sure you talk with your doctor before becoming pregnant. Some of these medications can cause complications including birth defects and death of the newborn baby.
Even women who have never had high blood pressure can develop gestational hypertension – a type of blood pressure that affects women who are pregnant. You’re at higher risk of developing this if you’re overweight, have diabetes or are younger than 20 or older than 40 during your pregnancy.
Talk with your doctor if you’re worried that you might have high blood pressure. Women have special concerns and if you’re concerned about your own heart health it’s important to pay attention to risks for high blood pressure for women.