Friday, September 18, 2009

Women and High Blood Pressure

Three out of four women with high blood pressure know they have it, yet fewer than one in three are controlling their blood pressure. All women should take steps to do so, with attention to the following factors that can increase it.

  • Oral contraceptives (birth control pills): Women taking birth control pills usually have a small increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure and are using birth control pills, get your blood pressure checked regularly. Talk to your doctor about a possible rise in blood pressure and what you can do about it. If you have high blood pressure, are age 35 or older, and also smoke, you should not take birth control pills unless you quit smoking, as you will be more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
  • Pregnancy: Many pregnant women with high blood pressure have healthy babies. However, high blood pressure can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby. High blood pressure can harm the mother's kidneys and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery. If you are thinking about having a baby and you have high blood pressure, talk first to your doctor or nurse. You can take steps to control your blood pressure before and during pregnancy.
  • Postmenopausal hormone therapy: Large randomized trials indicate that postmenopausal hormone therapy causes a small increase in systolic blood pressure. If you start taking postmenopausal hormone therapy, you should have your blood pressure checked regularly and consult your doctor regarding any questions.


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