advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Gender Differences in Blood Pressure?

I've heard that high blood pressure is potentially more dangerous for women than men. If this is true, can you explain why and tell me how it might affect the treatment of women with high blood pressure?

A
Answer (Published 5/5/2014)

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the most common risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the United States, affecting one in three adults. Untreated hypertension can lead to arterial damage, which in turn can result in impaired blood flow to vital organs, potentially leading to heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, eye damage or aneurysm. Fortunately, once identified, hypertension often can be controlled to some degree with changes in diet and lifestyle. If these measures don't help, drug treatment is prescribed, and antihypertensive medications are generally quite effective.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Heart Health - A healthful diet and lifestyle, along with prudent supplementation, can help prevent or lessen the risk of heart disease and related illnesses such as hypertension, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Learn more, and get your free, personalized nutritional supplement and vitamin recommendation today.

We know that after menopause, a woman's chance of developing high blood pressure becomes greater than a man's, and new research has shown significant differences in the causes of high blood pressure between the sexes. These differences may help explain why the incidence of cardiovascular disease has declined over the past 20 to 30 years in men, but not in women, even though treatment available for both sexes has been the same. As things now stand, heart disease is the leading cause of mortality among women, responsible for one-third of all deaths.

A study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center published in the December 2013 issue of Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease, revealed 30 to 40 percent more vascular disease (conditions affecting the circulatory system) in women compared to men, even though their elevated blood pressure readings were the same.

For the study, the Wake Forest researchers recruited 100 men and women age 53 and older with untreated high blood pressure and no other major diseases. They were seeking to determine whether it was the heart or the blood vessels acting as the primary contributor of the elevated blood pressure seen in the participants. Tests to differentiate the cause can be done in a doctor's office and often provide important information about the state of an individual's circulation that can help guide the selection of drugs used to lower blood pressure.

The tests measured the hemodynamic – the mechanical forces generated in the circulation of blood – and hormonal characteristics of the mechanisms involved in the development of high blood pressure in the men and women. They showed significant physiologic differences in the female cardiovascular system compared to men, including types and levels of hormones involved in blood pressure regulation that contribute to the severity and frequency of heart disease in women.

The authors concluded that their findings revealed a need to evaluate "what drugs, in what combination and in what dosage" are best for treatment of high blood pressure in women and suggested that doctors should be addressing the condition in women "earlier and more aggressively" than in men.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Sources:
Carlos Ferrario et al, "Hemodynamic and hormonal patterns of untreated essential hypertension in men and women," Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease,December 2013 vol. 7 no. 6 293-305

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here