High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease in Women





Is high blood pressure considered heart disease?

High blood pressure is a condition that makes the heart work harder than normal. And left untreated, it scars and damages your arteries and can lead to heart disease such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, heart failure and fatty buildups in the arteries, called atherosclerosis.


What are the symptoms of high blood pressure in women?

High blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension, is widely misunderstood and is called the ‘silent killer’ because there can often be no symptoms. We often assume it affects those who are type-A personalities, tense and aggressive. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with personality traits. In fact, you can be the most relaxed, calm person and still suffer from HBP.


What is healthy or normal blood pressure in women?

There is no difference in what is considered normal blood pressure in women and men. The different levels are the same for all adults.

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers and a written as a ratio.

  • Systolic: The top number in the ratio, which is also the higher of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.

  • Diastolic: The bottom number in the ratio, which is also the lower of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. While it can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg for women or men aged 20 or over.

The different blood pressure levels are:

  • Normal: Less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic

  • Elevated: 120-129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic

  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1:

  • 130-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic


  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2:

  • 140 or higher systolic or 90 or higher diastolic


  • Hypertensive Crisis: higher than 180 and/or higher than 120 diastolic

View the AHA blood pressure levels chart.

Because blood pressure can fluctuate, consider investing in a home blood pressure monitor to record your numbers regularly. Doing so can help your healthcare team determine whether you really have high blood pressure and, if you do, whether your treatment plan is working.

Learn how to measure your blood pressure properly.


Are women at higher risk of having high blood pressure?

Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure at some point during their lives. While high blood pressure isn't directly related to gender, pregnancy, birth control or changes to a woman’s body surrounding menopause can impact her high blood pressure.

You have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure if you are 20 pounds or more overweight, have a family history of high blood pressure, or have reached menopause.


While there is no cure, HBP can be managed and sometimes prevented by:

  • Adopting an overall healthy dietary pattern

  • Getting the recommended regular physical activity

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

These simple changes can go a long way and are key factors in lowering your numbers.


Will taking birth control pills increase my chances of getting high blood pressure?

Doctors and researchers have found a link between birth control pills and an increase in blood pressure among some women. They say that it is more likely to occur in women who are overweight, have kidney disease or have a family history of high blood pressure.

Talk to your health care team to determine what forms of birth control may be best for you. Women with known medical problems or other special conditions might need additional examinations or tests to determine the appropriate method of contraception.


Will high blood pressure effect my chances of getting pregnant?

Women who improve their heart health before pregnancy can reduce their medical risks later. This proactive approach can lower the likelihood of pregnancy complications. If you’re considering becoming pregnant, talk to your health care team about healthy changes you can make to help both you and your baby be healthier.

Doctors and researchers have found a link between birth control pills and an increase in blood pressure among some women. They say that it is more likely to occur in women who are overweight, have kidney disease or have a family history of high blood pressure.


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