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Blood Pressure And Women's Issues

Blood Pressure And Women's Issues

women older and youngMany people think high blood pressure (hypertension) is a "stress disease" — the result of overwork, no exercise, too many cocktail lunches, smoking, eating an unhealthy diet and other common but shortsighted behaviors. The truth is, except in a few rare cases, doctors don't know what causes high blood pressure. They do know that about 50 million Americans have it, and nearly half are women.  Three out of four women with high blood pressure know they have it. Yet fewer than one in three are controlling their blood pressure. All women should take steps to control their blood pressure.

High blood pressure has no symptoms. But as a woman, you should know when you may be particularly at risk for this disease.

If you're taking the Pill...

Medical researchers have found that taking birth control pills is linked with high blood pressure in some women. It’s more likely to occur if you're overweight, had high blood pressure during pregnancy, or have a predisposing condition, such as mild kidney disease or a family history of high blood pressure. The combination of birth control pills and cigarette smoking may be especially dangerous in some women. It’s smart to ask your doctor to measure your blood pressure before prescribing the Pill. Then have your blood pressure checked every six months or so.

If you're pregnant...

Physicians usually keep a close watch on blood pressure during pregnancy, because hypertension can develop rapidly in the last three months. If untreated, it's dangerous to mother and baby. This kind of hypertension usually disappears after delivery. If it doesn't, it should be controlled with careful, long-term treatment as with all other hypertension.

If you already have high blood pressure, pregnancy could make it more severe. Careful treatment helps ensure a normal pregnancy and a normal baby.

If you're overweight...

Being overweight or gaining a lot of weight increases your chance of developing high blood pressure. This is one reason why it's important to maintain normal weight throughout your life.

After menopause...

As a woman grows older, her chance of having high blood pressure becomes greater than a man's. You may have had normal blood pressure most of your life, but after menopause your chance of getting high blood pressure increases considerably.

If you're African American...

Nobody knows why, but studies show that black women — even very young black women — are much more susceptible to high blood pressure than white women are. Not only is the disease more common among black women, but often it’s more serious.

If your family has a history of high blood pressure...

If your parents and other close blood relatives have had high blood pressure, there's a good chance that you have it or will develop it. And if you have it, it's quite possible that your children also may develop it. Like adults, children should have regular blood pressure checks.

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