There are some health conditions that impact one gender more than the other, but when it comes to hypertension or high blood pressure, the lines aren’t clear cut. Men and women are both susceptible to elevated blood pressure and the complications it triggers, and neither sex is necessarily more vulnerable than the other. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men and women suffer from hypertension almost equally: 47% of men vs. 43% of women.
There are, however, factors unique to women that can put them at higher risk during different phases and stages of their lives. Dr. Bhavani Jeereddy at Kenilworth Primary Care encourages all her patients to have their blood pressure checked regularly, as hypertension is often asymptomatic. But if you're a woman, pay careful attention if you can relate to any of the following scenarios.
You’re taking birth control pills
Birth control pills are a great way to manage your family planning, but some of them can also be responsible for giving you high blood pressure. Because many forms of the pill contain estrogen, and estrogen is known to increase blood pressure, you may end up with a case of hypertension.
If this happens, talk to Dr. Jeereddy about replacing your pill with one that contains only progestin, or switching your birth control method to an IUD, an implant, or an injection.
Even if you’ve never had hypertension, pregnancy has a way of changing everything in your body, and one of those things could be increased blood pressure. This is a very specific type of high blood pressure called gestational hypertension.
It typically appears about three months into your pregnancy and generally goes away on its own after delivery, but during that time, it can be dangerous to both you and your baby. Dr. Jeereddy can treat your gestational hypertension and keep you both safe and healthy.
Hormones and hypertension go hand in hand, which is why birth control pills and pregnancy can impact your blood pressure. When you go through menopause, your hormones go through yet another major shift causing your blood pressure to go up. Of course, if you undergo hormone replacement therapy, it may trigger hypertension as well.
These hormonal imbalances can also lead to weight gain, another risk factor for high blood pressure.
Symptoms of hypertension
Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because it sneaks up on you without warning — which is why you should have your blood pressure checked regularly. But younger women have a better chance of experiencing symptoms because their arteries are healthy and can “feel” the effects of high blood pressure more easily than older women whose arteries have begun to harden.
If you do experience symptoms of hypertension, it may feel like:
- A tight or painful chest
- Your bra feels too tight
- Extreme fatigue
- Heart palpitations
- Fluid retention
- Blurry vision
These are signs you should come see Dr. Jeereddy to get your blood pressure and overall health checked out. If she determines that you have hypertension, Dr. Jeereddy can suggest lifestyle changes, medication, or both help you lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of serious complications.
To find out more about hypertension or to schedule a physical exam and a blood pressure check with Dr. Jeereddy, contact us at our Kenilworth, New Jersey, office or book an appointment online today.