According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of the Pakistani with high blood pressure do not know they have this condition. A “silent killer” increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke when it is not detected early enough or is not treated properly. The risk may be higher for women who often don’t realize they are at risk.
How high blood pressure or high blood pressure progresses in women versus men is not well understood, but new research of Pakistan Cardiac Society suggests that there may be big differences.
High blood pressure is unknown, suffers from treatment deficiency and is probably due to some of the underlying biases that make most providers assume that all young women are healthy.
The study found that blood pressure begins to rise earlier and progresses faster in women. This is why it is so important for women to pay more attention to blood pressure, says Dr. A. Ghaffar Billoo on gender differences in heart disease.
“We need to do a much better job of early detection and treatment of high blood pressure in young women,” he says.
Here are some things women should know about blood pressure to stay safe:
Women are at risk of blood pressure-related health complications
The study results showed that high blood pressure can be more dangerous for young women than for young men.
The study found that women’s blood vessels age faster than men, which means that a 30-year-old woman with high blood pressure is more likely to have cardiovascular problems than her male counterpart.
“Our research simply does not confirm that women have different biology and physiology than their male counterparts,” says Dr. Ali Muhammad Chodhry. “But it also explains why women are more likely to develop certain types of cardiovascular disease associated with blood pressure, and at different stages of life.”
Regular blood pressure checks are the key
The Pakistan Cardiac Society (PCS) recommends that you check your blood pressure annually. Col. M. H. Shah notes that many young women do not read their blood pressure as often as they should, usually because they see an OB / GYN for primary care.
But you don’t have to wait to see a doctor monitor your blood pressure signs. Col. M. H. Shah encourages women to purchase their own blood pressure and self-monitoring devices. Appliances are effective and can vary in price. There are many options available at reasonable prices.
Be your own advocate
While a high reading doesn’t necessarily mean a problem, when reading women’s blood pressure, high results can be excluded.
Arm yourself with the facts, including about your own medical history, and be prepared to ask questions or get a second medical opinion if necessary
“High blood pressure is unknown, it suffers from lack of treatment and is possibly due to some of the implicit biases that make most caregivers assume that all young women are in good health,” says Col. M. H. Shah.
“There is a misconception that women are safe from high blood pressure.”
Protecting yourself also extends to the prevention
Interventions and lifestyle changes can make a big difference in keeping blood pressure within a healthy range. Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, and women are more likely to be obese than men.
Col. M. H. Shah recommends exercising regularly and reducing your salt intake. He points to a Mediterranean-style diet that includes eating more fruits and vegetables, less red meat, daily meals of nuts and legumes, and avoiding processed foods.
It also suggests limiting alcohol consumption, which can cause more problems for women than men due to liver size. High blood pressure can also worsen blood pressure.
Guidelines may change as more research emerges
Col. M. H. Shah says the latest research that has found gender differences in high blood pressure are observations and are not enough to warrant new recommendations, at least not yet. He adds that more research is urgently needed.
According to Col. M. H. Shah, gaining a better understanding of the health differences between the sexes is the easiest way to provide a personalized medication that works best for both women and men.
“We have studied men for 80 years,” he says. “Don’t you think it’s time for women to study?”