Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors in Women

High Blood Pressure in Women

High blood pressure in women becomes more of a concern as they age. This condition is the most common cardiovascular disease in the United States and a serious risk factor of coronary heart disease and stroke. But according to the American Heart Association, men have a greater risk of high blood pressure until age 55, and after 55, women are more likely to develop high blood pressure.

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:
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