Study Reveals Issues with Women, BP

A new report shows women having a harder time than men when it comes to one risk factor for heart disease - high blood pressure.

Carol Bragdon, RN, of Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center says high blood pressure, or hypertension, often has no symptoms so people are unaware they have it. She says that takes a toll on the heart.

"Hypertension generates additional pressure against which the heart has to work," Bragdon says. "It makes it work harder, and, over time, that affects the ability of the heart muscle to pump."

The result can be a stiffened heart muscle or blockages in the arteries, putting a person at increased risk for heart attack, stroke and other problems.

A new study in the journal "Circulation" shows it's a particular concern for women. In every state, the study found more women than men have high blood pressure. The greatest difference is in Kansas, where there's a seven percent higher prevalence among women. Bragdon says one of the study's authors speculates increased obesity rates may be partly to blame, and obesity is of even more concern among women.

Bragdon says a healthy diet and daily exercise are the first step in keeping blood pressure down. The only way to know for sure if it's a problem is to get screened. Bragdon says the goal for the cystolic, or top, number is below 120. The number represents the actual pressure it takes to pump blood thru the arteries. The goal for the lower, or diastolic, number is below 80. That represents the pressure in the vascular system when the heart is at rest. Bragdon says a cystolic number between 120 and 140 is considered pre-hypertension, a condition where diet and exercise are of particular importance to get the number reduced. Above 140, the condition can be addressed additionally with medication.

Women's Risk Assessment
The Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center has special screenings just for women to assess their heart disease risk. For $55, you'll get a check of your blood pressure and cholesterol, and staff will create a personalized plan to improve your health. Call (785) 270-4HER to schedule your evaluation.


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