A new study reports that blood pressure begins to increase at a younger age in women than men, and increases faster.
On average, women who develop heart disease are around 10 years older than men who develop them. But this report, published in JAMA cardiology, suggests that hypertension, one of the most important controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, starts at a younger age in women than in men and increases more rapidly. The physiological processes that lead to heart disease, the results suggest, may start earlier in women than in men.
Scientists used the data collected over 43 years in 32,833 people from 5 to 98 years old. They found that when women are 20, they are showing faster rates of blood pressure increase than men and the difference persists throughout life. The change was significant for all blood pressure measurements – systolic and diastolic (the upper and lower numbers), as well as for the pulse pressure (the difference between the two numbers) and for the average blood pressure, the average pressure in the arteries from a heartbeat to the next.
“Fundamental anatomy and physiology are very different between men and women,” said senior author, Dr. Susan Cheng, director of public health research at the Smidt Heart Institute at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Angeles. “I would encourage everyone to take it when it creeps in, but keeping an eye on blood pressure is especially important for women.”