Women and Hypertension

By: James Pendergraft

Most people commonly associate hypertension with men. It is as if women could not develop the disease. It is because most information on hypertension center around excessive drinking, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle as the primary causes of developing hypertension. It is scarcely believable to think of women having the same lifestyle portrayed on men who are victims of hypertension.

But times have changed and women are just as at risk at contracting the disease as men. In fact, hypertension may even be more dangerous in women than in men because of the different health requirements for women, especially during pregnancy. In this regard, it would be best to have a paradigm shift and consider women to be equally at risk with men when it comes to hypertension.

What Is Hypertension?

In simple terms, hypertension refers to high blood pressure. It is a condition wherein one’s blood pressure is chronically elevated. It is different from sporadic instances when one’s blood pressure may rise and then settle to normal level later.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension

There are different signs and symptoms of the condition, and this varies from person to person. Common signs of hypertension, aside from the elevated blood pressure, are dizziness, blindness, muscle fatigue, difficulty in breathing, blurred vision, and sometimes difficulty in walking and other physical motion.

Causes of Hypertension

There are two main causes of hypertension: essential and secondary hypertension. In essential hypertension, it is impossible to determine the direct cause of the condition, and it is sometimes attributed to something genetic. Despite its unidentifiable cause, essential hypertension has a lot of risk factors such as smoking, drinking, and a sedentary lifestyle.

On the other hand, secondary hypertension can be caused by a lot of traceable factors such as medication, kidney problems, or pregnancy. In the case of the latter, it is very important for a pregnant woman to know if she is hypertensive as the condition may cause complications during pregnancy such as painful and dangerous labor, preeclampsia, or excessive bleeding during delivery. In this aspect, a hypertensive pregnant woman should seek immediate medical attention to avoid falling into risky complications in the course of pregnancy.

Handling Hypertension in Women

Despite common beliefs that women develop hypertension as a symptom of their menstrual period, no findings seem to support this theory. What is clear though is that just like in the case of men, having a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, taking illegal drugs, as well as drinking alcohol can contribute to a woman developing hypertension. Because the risks of hypertension to a woman are greater than in men, especially during pregnancy, the following measures should be taken:

a) Reduce weight and engage in aerobic exercises, especially walking. A pregnant woman may still take light walks in the morning, depending on the stage of her pregnancy. This will do a lot to counter hypertension.

b) Reduce the intake of salt in one’s diet

Learn to employ relaxation techniques such as meditation and mind-body relaxation techniques to counter the stress that one may encounter.

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