A common misconception is high blood pressure (HBP), or hypertension, rarely affects women.
However, nearly half of all adults with HBP are women.
While HBP isn’t directly related to gender, a woman’s life stages, like pregnancy, pregnancy prevention (birth control), and menopause, can increase the risk of developing HBP.
HBP is an important sign that preeclampsia, or severe high blood pressure during pregnancy, may be developing, and testing may be needed to check both the mother and baby. Not all women have noticeable symptoms beyond high blood pressure, but when they do occur, they may include headaches, vision changes, abdominal pain, or rapid swelling (edema).
Black women of childbearing age are more than twice as likely to have uncontrolled blood pressure than their white counterparts, according to research featured in a Go Red for Women issue of the “Journal of the American Heart Association.” Additionally, food insecurity, or lack of access to adequate healthy food, which is one of the social factors that may affect HBP risk, is higher among Hispanic and Black women compared to white women.
While delivery of the child is the only cure for preeclampsia, which affects 1 in 25 pregnancies in the United States, management of the condition is based on several factors, including the overall health of the mother and the progress of the disease. Symptoms usually subside within six weeks of delivery.