Most people with known or suspected hypertension should monitor their blood pressure at home use a healthy blood pressure chart and log, according to a Call-to-Action published in the journal Hypertension. However, if you’re female, home blood pressure monitoring is even more important, given that women are commonly under-diagnosed and under-treated when it comes to high blood pressure.
The study’s authors conclude that home blood pressure monitoring is “accurate, reliable, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive.” They also emphasize that home readings are “more reproducible than office readings, and show better correlations with measures of target organ damage.” In addition, home monitoring allows for a closer measurement of your true, average blood pressure, which is the best predictor of cardiovascular risk.
In These Three Scenarios, it is Critical for Women to Check Their Blood Pressure
Measuring your blood pressure at home is most useful when using a blood pressure chart that includes a log that tracks your home readings. But there are three cases in which home blood pressure monitoring is especially beneficial for women. These are:
1.) You are a woman with borderline high blood pressure or prehypertension (120–139/80–89 mmHg).
Have you been told that you have borderline hypertension, also known as high-normal blood pressure and officially termed “prehypertension”? If so, you will want to document this yourself at home to find out for sure, since this condition is notoriously difficult to identify in the doctor’s office and is associated with the same types of risks as hypertension.
With prehypertension, you are much more likely to develop true hypertension (high blood pressure). Studies show that compared to those with normal blood pressure, those with prehypertension are more likely to have organ damage and to suffer from a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke. Having prehypertension raises your risk of dying from any cause by 27% and of dying from cardiovascular disease by 66%.
Obviously, if you have borderline-high or high blood pressure, the solution is to take action now to get your blood pressure back down in the optimal range and keep it there. This is completely possible through the exclusive use of lifestyle changes and simple, effective, natural therapies. It’s also important to regularly track your blood pressure at home to make sure your natural treatments are working.
2.) You are a woman on medication for high blood pressure but it still is not well-controlled.
Do you need to improve your blood pressure control? Two-thirds of women being treated for high blood pressure have uncontrolled hypertension. Just because you take one or more blood pressure medications does not mean that they are working to consistently lower your blood pressure enough to decrease your risks. Home monitoring is recommended a way to better control your high blood pressure.
Studies show that if you regularly communicate data from your home monitoring sessions to your health care provider and appropriate action is taken, you are then much more likely to benefit from improved blood pressure control. Improved control means, ultimately, that you’re less at risk for having a heart attack or stroke, or suffering the other negative consequences of uncontrolled high blood pressure.
3.) You are a woman with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes/ pre-diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking, overweight/obesity, and excess alcohol consumption.
There are even some risk factors for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease that are more female-specific, such as preeclampsia during pregnancy and autoimmune disease. If you have any of these risk factors for cardiovascular disease, it’s even more important to know if you have borderline-high or high blood pressure and to keep it well-controlled if you do. As discussed above, there is no better way to do this than by regularly monitoring your blood pressure at home using a blood pressure chart and log.
Use of a Blood Pressure Chart for Women at High Risk
If you’re a woman with borderline high blood pressure, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or multiple cardiovascular risk factors, we recommend you start taking your blood pressure at home and start logging it on a regular basis. Let’s be clear here – the actual chart of blood pressure classifications defined as the guideline to be used to measure risk is the same for men and women. For example, prehypertension is defined as 120–139/80–89 mmHg for both men and women. But for women who find themselves in one or more of the scenarios described here, it is especially important to diligently and correctly use the blood pressure chart.
There is no better way to take control of your cardiovascular health and prevent strokes and heart attacks than by keeping your blood pressure optimal. The first step is determining your true, average blood pressure. You can find detailed instructions for home blood pressure monitoring, determining your true blood pressure, blood pressure chart interpretation, and logging your readings here.
Originally published on February 5, 2013.