Hypertension may double heart risk for women in middle age

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WOMEN in their early 40s with mild hypertension, elevated blood pressure, may be twice as likely as those with normal blood pressure to have a heart attack or unstable angina in their 50s, a new study suggests.

While men are more likely than women to have hypertension in their early 40s, damage to arteries appears to begin at lower blood pressures in women.

If confirmed, the findings imply that there should be a lower threshold for starting antihypertensive treatment in women.

In acute coronary syndromes, which include heart attacks and unstable angina, the flow of blood that normally supplies oxygen to the heart is impaired.

In recent decades, the overall incidence of acute coronary syndromes, and the mortality rates associated with these events, have decreasedTrusted Source in Western countries.
However, these improvements do not appear to include younger women.

In some countries, the number of young and middle-aged women hospitalized with acute coronary syndromes has actually increased.

There is some evidence that the adverse effects of increasing blood pressure may be worse for women than men, but whether this applies to younger women remains uncertain.

A new study has found that women in their early 40s with mildly elevated blood pressure — defined as stage 1 hypertension in the United States — are twice as likely to have a heart attack or unstable angina in their 50s, compared with women who have normal blood pressure.

The research, led by scientists at the University of Bergen, in Norway, has been published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

“The results add to emerging evidence indicating that high blood pressure has particularly unfavorable effects on women’s hearts,” says lead study author Dr. Ester Kringeland.

“All adult women should be aware of their blood pressure and have their blood pressure measured at least every 5 years.

If women have other risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, [or] pregnancy complications, or if they have parents with high blood pressure, their blood pressure should be measured every 1–2 years.”