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New Research Reveals Gap in Medical Knowledge Regarding Normal Blood Pressure Level for Women

A key component of your heart’s health and your overall well-being is maintaining your blood pressure at an optimal level. Timely distribution of oxygen throughout the body and the delivery of nutrients to your tissues and organs are dependent on proper circulation of blood.

The blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart are called arteries. When the heart pumps blood through these vessels, a force is exerted on its walls, known as blood pressure. As such, when reading your blood pressure, you need to be considerate of two readings: the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure reveals the force exerted during heartbeats, while diastolic pressure reveals the force when the muscles in your heart relax between heartbeats.

Unsplash | It is important to keep your blood pressure in check

For a long time, the standard guideline for normal systolic pressure is noted to be 120 millimeters of mercury. Blood pressure elevated beyond this range can cause hypertension, thereby leading to cardiovascular diseases such as strokes or even heart failure.

However, a new study suggests things might not be the same for women.

Unsplash | Women’s risk threshold isn’t what doctors thought it was

Findings of the Study

All through modern medicine development, doctors believed that the normal systolic pressure was the same for both men and women. Regardless, a recent study published in Circulation uncovered that even systolic levels under 120 mm Hg could make females susceptible to cardiovascular diseases.

The study was conducted at the Smidt Heart Institute of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by the director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging, Dr. Susan Cheng, with her team’s help. 27,542 participants were recruited for the study, of which 54% were female.

At the beginning of the study, none of the participants suffered from any cardiovascular diseases. However, throughout the span of research, which later for 4 decades, 7,424 people had developed some form of fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease. 44% of those people were women.

Examining the systolic pressure threshold, which evidently remained 120 mm Hg for men, found an increased risk for women even at 110 mm Hg. Additionally, the research uncovered ranges for different heart diseases.

The threshold was comparable at 140–149 mm Hg for males and 120–129 mm Hg for females for stroke. For heart failure, males exhibited risk at 120–129 mm Hg, while the value was 110-119 mm Hg for females.

Unsplash | Consult a doctor if your blood pressure seems irregular

In Essence…

What doctors considered the optimal range for the blood pressure may not be the same for females, as this latest research proves. This gap in medical knowledge now raises critical questions with regards to the prevention and treatment of heart diseases. Now, additional research is required to gauge whether or not females should be treated for hypertension at this newly revealed level.

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