Women Have a Lower “Normal” Blood Pressure Range Compared to Men

Female doctor measuring blood pressure of senior womenBlood pressure guidelines seem to be in the spotlight more than ever as the number of people who suffer from high blood pressure rises. But until now, the discussion around blood pressure seemed to focus on men and women as a whole.

However, a new study from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai shows that women have a lower “normal” blood pressure range compared to men. This could mean significant changes to guidelines and prevention methods.


Currently, the established guidelines state that both men and women have the same range of normal blood pressure. The author of the study, Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, MMSc, spoke about the research investigating blood pressure differences between the sexes. She said, “Our latest findings suggest that this one-size-fits-all approach to considering blood pressure may be detrimental to a woman’s health. Based on our research results, we recommend that the medical community reassess blood pressure guidelines that do not account for sex differences.”

For the study published in Circulation, Cheng and her team examined blood pressure data from four community-based cohort studies, comprising more than 27,000 participants, 54% of which were women.

For decades, the healthy range of blood pressure readings included a 120 mmHg for systolic. The systolic blood pressure reading measures the force of the blood against the artery walls as the heart beats. It is known that persistent elevations above this limit can lead to hypertension, which is the key risk factor for common cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

This new study found that women had a lower blood pressure threshold than men for risk of each specific cardiovascular disease type. This leads researchers to rethink what was thought of as normal blood pressure between the sexes. It was shown that 120 mmHg was the threshold of risk in men, and 110 mmHg or lower was the threshold of risk in women.

Previous research has provided evidence to show that women’s blood vessels age faster than men’s. Women also seem to have different biology and physiology than men, which may explain why women may be more susceptible to developing certain types of cardiovascular disease and at different points in life.

A Different Way of Testing


This study found different results from previous tests, possibly due to the way the tests were compared. This was the first to compare women to women and men to men, rather than the common model of comparing women to men.

“If the ideal physiologic range of blood pressure truly is lower for females than males, current approaches to using sex-agnostic targets for lowering elevated blood pressure need to be reassessed,” said Christine Albert, MD, MPH. “This important work is far-reaching and has numerous clinical implications.”

Researchers plan to extend their study to examine whether women should be treated for hypertension when their systolic blood pressure is higher than 100 mmHg rather than the current recommendation of 120 mmHg. This study could help to change the way prevention is handled for cardiovascular disease risk.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.