Middle-aged women should be regularly checking their blood pressure to avoid a heart attack. A new study has found that women with mildly elevated blood pressure in their early 40s have a two-fold risk of acute coronary syndromes in their 50s compared to those with normal blood pressure.
The study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology measured blood pressure in 6,381 women and 5,948 men who were participating in the community-based Hordaland Health Study at age 41. Follow-up for the incidence of heart attack was recorded for 16 years.
It was found that in women, even mildly elevated blood pressure was associated with a doubled risk of cardiac events during midlife. This association was not found in men.
Lead author Dr. Kringeland said, “Our analyses confirmed that mildly elevated blood pressure affects the risk of acute coronary syndromes in a sex-specific manner. The results add to emerging evidence indicating that high blood pressure has particularly unfavorable effects on women’s hearts.”
“Even if they feel healthy, women should have their blood pressure measured by their primary care physician and repeated at regular intervals with the frequency-dependent on the level. Those with other risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, pregnancy complications, or parents with high blood pressure need more intense monitoring.”
It has been found that, on average, young women have lower blood pressure compared to young men. However, they often see a steeper increase in blood pressure starting in their 30s. Since the threshold for hypertension is the same in both sexes, young women have a larger increase in blood pressure compared to men before being diagnosed with high blood pressure.
A Strong Message
These findings are significant and send a strong message that elevated blood pressure should not be ignored. Women in mid-life need to be encouraged to check blood pressure regularly and take action against mild elevations. Easy lifestyle interventions can control hypertension, and the earlier it is detected, the easier it is to get it under control.
Cardiovascular disease risk can be reduced by eating a healthy diet and getting daily exercise. Other ways to lower blood pressure include practicing mind and body techniques, including meditation. It is also advised to avoid smoking and reduce the consumption of alcohol and salt.