High BP May Start Earlier for Women

One of the top controllable risk factors for developing heart disease is high blood pressure, and for women, a new study finds that high blood pressure starts to increase at a younger age than men and rises faster.  According to a recent New York Times report, research published in JAMA Cardiology indicates that rising blood pressure may start earlier in women, even in their 20s, and increase faster over time than among men.  

Although on average women who develop cardiovascular disease are 10 years older than men who develop heart disease, the study’s findings suggest that women should start early to control high blood pressure.  Cardiovascular disease presents differently in women than in men, and researchers believe high blood pressure is an important indicator of vascular aging and top contributing factor to heart disease and the risk for heart failure.

Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest, left arm, or back.
  • Unusually rapid heartbeat.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea or fatigue.

Source:  Cleveland Clinic

Although medication may be prescribed by your doctor to control high blood pressure, there are also a number of ways to manage hypertension with lifestyle changes.  According to the Mayo Clinic, losing excess weight, especially around the waistline, getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, stopping smoking, limiting caffeine, managing stress, monitoring blood pressure at home and visiting the doctor regularly can help control high blood pressure.  

Losing even a few pounds of extra weight can help lower blood pressure and reduce the need for medication.  Men should aim to keep their waist measurement lower than 40 inches and women under 35 inches.   According to The American Heart Association, losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can help lower high blood pressure by reducing the strain on your heart and lessening damage to blood vessels.   Learn more about reducing your risk of heart disease with fitness and weight management here.