Women’s heart disease risk may be at lower blood pressure thresholds


NEW research suggests that the threshold at which blood pressure may pose a heart disease risk is lower in females.

Justin Paget/Getty Images A recent study raises questions about the long-established universal range for normal blood pressure.

The blood pressure threshold for increased risk of heart disease may actually be lower in females than in males.

These results call for the need to reassess current guidelines for an accurate approach to female cardiovascular health.

Maintaining blood pressure within the optimal range is a key component of heart health and overall physical well-being.

Proper blood circulation throughout the body distributes oxygen and other nutrients to the various organs and tissues to sustain bodily functions.

The heart pumps blood by way of blood vessels called arteries. As blood flows through the arteries, it exerts a force against the artery walls that causes what is known as blood pressure.

Blood pressure readings include two measurements resulting from this effect: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.

Systolic pressure refers to the force of the blood during heartbeats. Diastolic pressure is the force that occurs between heartbeats when the heart muscle relaxes.

Current guidelines state that 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is the upper limit for a normal systolic blood pressure range in all adults. This limit has been the standard for many years.

Elevated levels beyond this range can lead to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure and stroke.

However, a new study that appears in Circulation suggests that females may be susceptible to cardiovascular disease at blood pressures lower than the 120 mm Hg threshold.

Dr. Susan Cheng, M.D., MPH, MMSc, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging, led the team of researchers who conducted this study at the Smidt Heart Institute of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. Sex and gender exist on spectrums.

This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more. Normal blood pressure for males vs.

females team analyzed the blood pressure measurements of 27,542 participants, of whom 14,873 (54%) were female.

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