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Treatment for Blood Pressure in Women Being Re-evaluated

Doctors may need to treat high blood pressure in women earlier and more aggressively than they do in men according to a  recent US study.

The research, published in Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease  looked at 100 men and women aged 53 and older with untreated high blood pressure and found significant differences in the mechanisms that cause high blood pressure in women when compared to men. They found 30 to 40% more vascular disease in the women compared to the men for the same level of elevated blood pressure.

Heart Foundation’s National Director of Cardiovascular Health, Dr Robert Grenfell said the study findings were interesting and more research was needed to fully understand the differences that cause and effect high blood pressure in women and men.

“Research like this is helping to better understand the differences between men and women and to help develop and tailor better treatments. The Heart Foundation is currently funding similar research to this here in Australia that looks at how the sex-genes influence the development of high blood pressure,” Dr Grenfell said. “While the differences between high blood pressure in men and women are not yet fully understood, we do know that women are protected in their younger years by higher oestrogen levels.”

The latest ABS Australian Health Survey results showed some startling figures – 4.6 million adult Australians have high blood pressure and only 1.46 million of these people have their blood pressure under control.

Dr Grenfell said high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease – Australia’s number one killer.

“High blood pressure is often called a silent killer because there are no obvious symptoms – the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to ask your GP for a regular check up,” he said. “Reducing the amount of salt people eat is the single biggest thing they can do to prevent high blood pressure in the first place.

“The large amount of salt in the Australian diet is concerning and we believe that more must be done by government and the food industry to make our foods healthier.”