Hypertension or High Blood Pressure is a condition that makes the heart work harder than normal. It is widely assumed that it affects those who are type-A, tense and aggressive. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with personality traits. In fact, you can be the most relaxed, calm person and still suffer from hypertension. As a woman, you have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure for a number of reasons. So how do you determine if you have hypertension?
On World Hypertension Day, TC46 connected with General Physician Dr Pradip Shah of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai to better understand high blood pressure. Here, he shares the effects of hypertension on women, common causes, symptoms and ways to manage it effectively.
1.What is hypertension and how does it affect women?
Hypertension is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. Usually, it is defined as blood pressure above 140/90 and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120. In addition, there are some forms of Hypertension that occur exclusively in women, like Hypertension related to menopause, oral contraceptive use, or pregnancy.
- Chronic Hypertension
- Gestational Hypertension
2. What are some facts that debunk the myth that high blood pressure only affects men?
Some common myths surrounding hypertension are:
Myth 1: High blood pressure is over 140/90 mm Hg.
Fact: High blood pressure is over 130/80 mm Hg.
Myth 2: The signs of high blood pressure are obvious.
Fact: High blood pressure has no symptoms.
Myth 3: As long as I don’t add too much salt to my food, I can eat what I want.
Fact: It’s not just table salt you have to worry about.
Myth 4: Drinking coffee can raise blood pressure.
Fact: It generally doesn’t — but alcohol can.
Myth 5: High blood pressure is more common in men.
Fact: It depends on age. Women have a few additional considerations for high blood pressure. Taking birth control pills may raise their risk of hypertension. Women with high blood pressure may have a greater risk of complications during pregnancy, and women who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy are more at risk of having high blood pressure later in life.
3. What are the symptoms of hypertension among women?
Some of the symptoms of high blood pressure among women are:
- Tight, nagging and often continuous chest pain at rest
- Pain may radiate to the jaws, left arm, shoulder blades
- Stress-related chest pain, with/without radiation
- Tiredness, loss of energy, -sleeping disturbances
- Hot flushes, severe sweating day/night
- Palpitations, Tachycardias, Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation
- Intermittent fluid retention manifesting as – swelling of ankles, hands, eyes
- Headaches, blurred vision
4. Why is high blood pressure known as the “silent killer”?
Early detection of high blood pressure is very important. Often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ in most people, as it may show no symptoms but has increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other things.
5. What are the common causes and risk factors of high blood pressure?
The exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, but several things may play a role, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity
- Too much salt in the diet
- Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
- Old age
6. What are some of the complications that can arise due to hypertension?
Some complications of high blood pressure are:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Heart failure
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your Kidneys
- Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Trouble with memory or understanding
7. What is the correlation between birth control pills and high blood pressure?
Birth control pills containing estrogen can increase blood pressure. When women who have high blood pressure, use these birth control methods, they have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack compared with women who do not have high blood pressure.
8. What are some effective ways of managing the risk factors?
- Increase activity and exercise
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Eat more Potassium and less Sodium
- Eat less processed food
- Stop smoking
- Reduce excess stress
- Try meditation or yoga
9. What are some common treatment plans for hypertension?
Apart from lifestyle modifications like a low salt diet, weight reduction, stress reduction or meditation and regular exercise, there are several types of drugs used to treat high blood pressure, including:
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
- Calcium channel blockers