A recent study found blood pressure in women begins to increase at younger ages, and at a faster rate, than in men.
The study is based on data collected over 43 years in nearly 33,000 people, ages five to 98.
Dr. Tulika Jain says the American Heart Association publishes data every year about how blood pressure compares between men and women, and different ethnicities, and how that relates to different cardiovascular outcomes, like stroke and heart attack. But the cardiologist with Texas Health Dallas and Texas Health Physicians Group said this study is different, because it focused on how the rate of change compares between men and women.
"Looking at the rate of change may explain how blood vessels affect heart disease and stroke," Jain said. “And if this rate of change may need to be a marker to look at, maybe even to predict, who needed to be treated at a certain level.”
Why The Increase Begins So Young In Women
Blood pressure is multi-factorial. There’s so many factors that impact it: weight diet, hormone levels, their medications, stress factors. It’s not completely clear, but those factors, plus some genetic factors, may impact it as well.
Don’t Women Tend To Be Older Than Men When They Develop Heart Disease?
That’s the belief, but there are also some types of diseases that tend to be more prevalent in women earlier. They tend to have a certain kind of congestive heart failure. They also tend to have micro-vascular disease more than men.
What Women Should Take From The Study
For people to monitor their blood pressure more frequently and earlier. It’s a treatable problem. If you develop the levels that require interventions, it doesn’t have to mean you have to be on medications. Depending on the cause, you could start with lifestyle changes:
- Reducing your weight
- Limiting your alcohol
- Avoiding medications that raise blood pressure
You can avoid high blood pressure, if there are not other causes. It’s really about prevention and being proactive about your medical care.
Answers have been edited for clarity.