Risk Factor—High Blood Pressure and Women

Nearly one-third of the American population has high blood pressure or hypertension, which is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke for both men and women. The increase in pressure damages the arteries. However, women have a higher risk for high blood pressure than men. Factors that contribute to high blood pressure are genetics, age, gender, menopause, and lifestyle.

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, you should have your blood pressure checked periodically. My mother’s uncle died at a young age with high blood pressure and kidney failure. I never actually thought about blood pressure as a young woman. I always had low to-normal pressure until I became pregnant. After my first pregnancy, I was vigilant about taking my pressure because it had risen so much during the pregnancy. Suddenly, in my mid-30s, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Today my pressure is perfect, using the practices, I outline in this book.

To understand your body’s blood pressure patterns, it’s helpful for you to learn how to take your own pressure. When we are newly diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s easy to be nervous in the doctor’s office, which can increase or otherwise change blood pressure. This occurrence is known as “white coat syndrome,” named for the doctor’s white coat. I decided to desensitize myself to it because I would get two vastly different readings from home and when I would see the doctor. To overcome this kind of nervousness, I took my blood pressure and charted it several times a day. I have continued this desensitization practice for years.

Tips for taking your blood pressure include:

  •  Keep your arm at 90 degrees with your heart. If your arm is held too high, your pressure will register as low, and if your arm is held too low, your pressure will register as high.
  • Practice taking blood pressure in both arms to chart possible differences.
  • Empty your bladder before taking your blood pressure.
  • Do not cross your legs or arms and do not talk while taking your blood pressure.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise can negatively affect blood pressure. For example, a sedentary lifestyle increases chances for high blood pressure and weight gain. This is yet another reason to get into the habit of physical activity. Exercise is so crucial to our good health that it needs to become a routine like brushing our teeth. Your body was meant to move.

Similarly, a sodium-heavy diet can raise blood pressure. Where salt goes, water follows, which means fluid retention. These fluids put stress on the heart. A great deal of sodium is found in most canned, bottled, and otherwise processed foods. To lower high blood pressure, learn to make healthy food choices.

Some blood pressure problems are genetic and need medication for treatment, while other problems often can be resolved with lifestyle changes. Give the doctor a detailed family history to help in making this distinction. My doctor said that we should not feel any different when taking medication for high blood pressure. I needed to try different brands before finding the right one, though. One of the medications caused me to have a dry, hacking cough, which was a side effect. It’s important to work with your doctor to get the right blood pressure medication.  If you have resistant hypertension, please ask your doctor for a sleep study.

Copyright © 2012 DoriNaerbo.com. All rights reserved.

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