Control in woMen
the holidays are a fun time to get together with family and friends, so a few detours from a baseline course of healthy eat-
ing are perfectly fine and likely even beneficial with regard to one’s
mental health. However, now that the New Year has begun, it is time to get back on track and
put those resolutions in order. When it comes to diet, calories are not the only thing to watch.
Salt is another key factor because reducing one’s sodium intake is one of the best ways to prevent hypertension. Controlling blood pressure is important for individuals of both sexes,
but it is especially important for women who can prevent 36%
of serious cardiovascular events (heart attacks and strokes) by
doing so. In men this figure is only 24%.
A recent study in Hypertension: Journal of the American
Heart Association reinforced the importance of blood pressure
control in women. It showed that a 15 point decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number) reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 56% in females. Men with the same intervention had only a 32% reduction in their risk. Before age 50,
fewer women are diagnosed with hypertension than men, but
after age 55 this is reversed. After age 70, the prevalence of hypertension in women is around 80-90%. Many of these cases
Blood pressure simply refers to the force that blood in your
circulatory system exerts on the walls of your arteries. The
bottom number of the reading is called the diastolic pressure
and the top is systolic pressure. The systolic pressure is the
“wave” that goes through the arteries with each heartbeat.
The diastolic pressure is the constant pressure the arteries are
exposed to between waves. If this strain is too high, the arteries are damaged leading to coronary artery disease, strokes,
kidney damage and vision problems. The units are millimeters of mercury. The table below describes how blood pressure
readings are categorized.
Stage 1 Hypertension
Stage 2 Hypertension
Having either number fall within a higher category puts
one within that category, but controlling the systolic pres-
sure seems to be more important for disease prevention. Blood
pressure normally varies throughout the course of the day in
response to things like exercise, stress, salt intake and more.