Middle-aged women are warned to get blood pressure check as it could indicate heart attack risk, study shows
- Women in 40s with a slightly raised blood pressure face higher heart attack risk
- Researchers from university in Norway studied 6,381 women and 5,948 men all of whom were 41 and found heart attacks were linked to higher blood pressure
- Dr Ester Kringeland, author of study, says findings probably reflect differences in how the small arteries in men and women respond to high blood pressure
Middle-aged women should check their blood pressure to see if they are at risk of heart attacks, researchers say.
Women with slightly raised blood pressure in their 40s have double the risk of heart attacks in their 50s compared with women of the same age who have normal blood pressure, a study found.
The researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway measured blood pressure in 6,381 women and 5,948 men. They were all aged 41.
Heart attacks were recorded over the next 16 years and the results revealed they were linked to higher blood pressure – but only for women.
Dr Ester Kringeland, author of the study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, said the findings probably reflect differences in how small arteries in men and women respond to high blood pressure.
Weight, diet and exercise all play a role in maintaining a normal blood pressure.
Women with slightly raised blood pressure in their 40s have double the risk of heart attacks in their 50s compared with women of the same age who have normal blood pressure study found
Dr Kringeland said: ‘Our analyses confirmed that mildly elevated blood pressure was associated with a double risk of acute coronary syndromes in a sex-specific manner.
‘The results add to emerging evidence indicating that high blood pressure has particularly unfavourable effects on women’s hearts.’
Young women have on average lower blood pressure than men, but a steeper increase is observed in women in their 30s, she explained.
‘Since the threshold for high blood pressure is the same in both sexes, young women have in fact had a relatively larger increase than men before being diagnosed with high blood pressure,’ she added.
‘Women should know their blood pressure. To retain a normal blood pressure, it is recommended to maintain a normal body weight, keep a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
‘Furthermore, it is advisable to avoid smoking and excess consumption of alcohol and salt.’
Researchers studied 6,381 women and 5,948 men all of whom were aged 41 and the findings revealed heart attacks were linked to higher blood pressure – but only for women
In England the proportion of people with hypertension – or high blood pressure – increases from 5 per cent of men and 1 per cent of women aged between 16 and 24, to 58 per cent in both sexes aged between 65 and 74.
Commenting on the study Professor Bryan Williams, Chair of Medicine at University College London, said: ‘This is a very important finding with a strong message.
‘It has often been assumed based on the way we are encouraged to estimate risk of heart disease, that the cardiovascular risk associated with elevated blood pressure in mid-life life is greater for men than women.
‘Importantly, this study suggests that this is not the case and that even mild elevations in blood pressure in women in early and mid-life should not be ignored.’
The findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.