Controlling blood pressure levels is even more vital for women than for men.
It’s often men who are the target of heart disease-related advice, but now middle-aged and older women are being told that the link between raised blood pressure and heart disease is even stronger for them than it is for men.
Researchers from around the world (11 countries) worked together on behalf of the International Database on Ambulatory blood pressure in relation to Cardiovascular Outcomes (IDACO), to assess nearly 10,000 people, of whom roughly half were women, over a period of 11 years.
They found that high systolic blood pressure (the first of the two numbers in your reading) is a powerful indicator of the likelihood of heart disease for women. They found that the percentage of potentially preventable and/or reversible cardiovascular disease in men is 24; but for women the figure is a far higher 36%.
These figures were based on 24-hour systolic blood pressure monitoring, which gave the researchers a better overview of the participants’ blood pressure than, say, a one-off measurement would have done.
They also discovered that just three risk factors – high systolic pressure, high cholesterol and smoking – account for 85% of reversible risk of heart disease, meaning that if people addressed these issues, the majority of heart problems could be prevented. Analysing the figures further, the researchers calculated that by reducing systolic pressure by just 15mm Hg in hypertensive women, they could expect to see a 40% improvement in terms of preventing cardiovascular disease.