Blood pressure begins to become a risk factor of coronary heart disease when it exceeds 115/75 mm Hg. Pre-hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 89 mm Hg, and lifestyle changes, which may be especially beneficial for women, are recommended at this point.
Weight loss and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which restricts sodium, can significantly improve blood pressure. If lifestyle changes don't result in lower blood pressure, or blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or greater, medication may be necessary.
The Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial -- which specifically targeted women -- compared three antihypertensive drugs in people who had high blood pressure. While all of them reduced risk of coronary heart disease, the diuretic chlorthalidone lowered the risk of heart failure more than amlodipine (a calcium channel blocker), and it also lowered the risk of stroke more than lisinopril (an ACE inhibitor). The results from this study suggest that a diuretic, included as part of a multi-drug regimen, can be particularly beneficial.
Diabetes should be of particular concern to women who are at risk of coronary heart disease. Find out why on the next page.
For more information on coronary heart disease, see:
- Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease in Women: Women typically do not have obvious signs of heart disease, making it difficult to diagnose. Find out who should get tested.
- Diagnosing Coronary Heart Disease in Women: A range of tests are available if your risk is higher than 5 percent. Learn what these are, and why some aren't always accurate.
- Treatment of Coronary Heart Disease in Women: Traditional treatment isn't always effective in women. Learn about lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy.
- Coronary Heart Disease: This condition is the culmination of years of plaque buildup in the arteries. Find out how to prevent it.