Rising blood pressure puts women at greater stroke risk than men

African-American woman self-checking her blood pressure.

By American Heart Association News

As the severity of high blood pressure rises, the risk of stroke rises almost twice as quickly in women compared with men, according to a new study.

Published Tuesday in the journal Hypertensionthe research raises the question of whether sex-specific guidelines may be needed for controlling high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is the most common modifiable risk factor for stroke, which is the third leading cause of death for women and the fifth for men.

For people under 60, high blood pressure is less prevalent in women than men, study authors said. But it becomes more prevalent in older women, who are less likely to keep their blood pressure under control as they age.

“Our findings basically suggest that the risk of stroke may increase with each level of hypertension, more so in women than men,” said Dr. Tracy Madsen, the study’s lead author. She is an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Madsen’s team looked at sex and racial differences in the level of hypertension severity and stroke risk in 26,461 men and women in the United States. More than half of participants were women, 40% were black, and the average age of men was 66, while for women it was 64.

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