There are usually no warning signs to alert you that your blood pressure is too high; you may still feel perfectly well. One in five adults have high blood pressure (hypertension), and most don’t know it, which is why high blood pressure is often called the ‘silent killer’. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is too high is for it to be measured by your doctor, nurse or health professional. An ideal blood pressure is less than 130/80.
Women should be familiar with the basics of high blood pressure, the risks and prevention strategies. You should also be aware that clinical models which say that women are at less risk than men are outdated. As a woman, there are unique topics such as pregnancy and menopause which can play an important role in your blood pressure health.
Women under a certain age do tend to develop high blood pressure less frequently than men, due to the protective effects of estrogen. As women age, this protective effect decreases, and by the retirement years, women and men share about the same level of risk.
Medical science doesn't understand what causes most cases of high blood pressure, so it's hard to say how to prevent it. Several factors may contribute to it.
People whose parents or other close blood relatives have high blood pressure are more likely to develop it themselves.
Blood pressure tends to increase with age, and occurs most often in people older than 45 years of age. Men have a greater risk of high blood pressure than women until age 45. From age 45–54, the percentages of men and women are similar. After age 55, women are more likely to develop high blood pressure than men are.
Risk Factors that can be Controlled
If you have an Inactive Lifestyle:
An active lifestyle with heart healthy diet helps in controlling high blood pressure. A thirty minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days, followed by a healthy diet of colored vegetables and fruits and 2-3 servings of low-fat milk products a day can lower blood pressures.
If you are a Smoker and an Alcohol consumer:
Smoking and alcohol consumption are the number 1 risk factors over which you have control. Smoking and alcohol intake can increase blood pressure drastically. It such a powerful risk factor for so many different human diseases that doctors are encouraged to ask every patient to call it quits.
Quitting smoking and limiting the alcohol intake is the best thing you can do for your health.
Sodium (salt) sensitivity:
Consumption of far more salt (sodium) than the body’s need increases blood pressure in some people, leading to high blood pressure. People diagnosed with high blood pressure should be on sodium-restricted diets.
If you are Obese or Overweight:
Studies have shown that changes in body weight over time and skinfold thickness are related to changes in blood pressure levels. These factors have been linked to the later rise and development of high blood pressure. People who are overweight are more likely to have high-normal to mild high blood pressure. In this case, losing weight will help in lowering the blood pressure.
If you are Pregnant:
Pregnancy can cause a type of high blood pressure called gestational hypertension. This condition can develop quickly, so it is common for your doctor to watch your blood pressure closely during pregnancy. If this condition occurs, it must be treated to avoid causing problems for both the mother and the baby. Pregnancy can also make existing high blood pressure worse. If you are planning on becoming pregnant
If you Use Birth Control Pills:
There is research linking birth control pills to high blood pressure. Smoking cigarettes greatly amplifies this link. If you are thinking of starting birth control pills
If you are overweight, have a family history of high blood pressure, or have had a complicated pregnancy in the past, your doctor may want to check your blood pressure more often.
If You Are Post-Menopausal:
During menopause, levels of estrogen decrease greatly. Besides being the cause of common side effects of menopause such as hot flashes, declining estrogen levels also mean elevating high blood pressure risk. It is important to monitor your blood pressure during and after menopause, even if it has been normal for your whole life, because your risk increases substantially during this time.
If you are on Medication:
Some medications can raise blood pressure and/or interfere with the effectiveness of antihypertensive drugs. People with high blood pressure should tell their doctor all of the prescribed and over-the-counter medicines they're taking, such as these:
If your blood pressure level is too high, your doctor may recommend you also take medication. There are many different medications that lower blood pressure; your doctor will discuss with you the medication that best suits you. Many people who take blood pressure lowering medication will need it for life.
If you are taking blood pressure medication, it is important to have your blood pressure monitored every three months until it is controlled, and then every six months.