MHLbannersmallWhy this convergence matters to women in our community and our life

As mentioned in various parts of your newsletter, May is National Blood Pressure Awareness Month, from the beginning to the end. But during the week of May 12-18, it shares the spotlight with National Women's Health Week. This intersection brings together some important health issues of particular interest and importance to women.

One of the most important is the fact that some people mistakenly believe that high blood pressure, also called hypertension, is more common among men. The truth is nearly half of all adults with high blood pressure are women. While hypertension isn't directly related to gender, certain women's issues and stages in life can increase the risk.

high_blood_pressFor example:

  • Beginning around ages 55 to 60, after the onset of menopause, women are actually more likely to have high blood pressure than men.
  • Medical researchers have found that birth control pills increase blood pressure in some women. This increase is more likely if you're also overweight, have a family history of the condition, smoke (the combination of birth control pills and smoking may be especially dangerous), have mild kidney disease or had high blood pressure during pregnancy.

And speaking of pregnancy …

  • .If you are taking high blood pressure medication and are planning a pregnancy, it's important to consult with your doctor. Pregnancy has the potential to make hypertension more severe. By following your physician's recommendations and carefully managing your blood pressure you can help assure a normal pregnancy and healthy baby. Please Note: If you think you are pregnant and are taking these medications, see your doctor immediately.
  • Some women who have never had high blood pressure may develop it during pregnancy – a number that's estimated to be six to eight percent of pregnancies, most of which are first time pregnancies. This condition, called Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) is another reason why your care providers keep a close watch on your blood pressure during pregnancy.

What about hormone replacement therapy? …

  • A number of recent studies indicate that hormone replacement therapy does not result in an increase in blood pressure, and some studies even show an improvement. However, a few women may experience a rise in BP related to estrogen therapy, so it's important to be monitored more frequently.

Although hypertension can be effectively treated and managed, only one woman in three with high blood pressure are doing what they can to control it. Let this intersection of National Women's Health Week and National Blood Pressure Awareness Month be a reminder that the tools, including a wealth of information, are there … so it's up to you to use them.