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Many Women Struggle With Uncontrolled Blood Pressure
Date:7/16/2008

But medications and lifestyle changes can head off threats like heart attack and stroke

WEDNESDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly one in three Americans suffers from high blood pressure -- more than 73 million adults.

But half of them -- women -- face unique challenges in controlling their blood pressure.

For instance, women with high blood pressure are more likely to be obese and have high cholesterol levels. They're also less likely than men to meet target goals for their blood pressure. And they're also less likely than men to receive medications such as aspirin, blood pressure-lowering drugs or cholesterol-lowering drugs, compared to men, recent research found.

These findings add greater urgency to the American Heart Association's ongoing "Go Red for Women" campaign, which seeks to change the perception that high blood pressure and heart disease are "male" health threats.

Most people don't know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women -- as well as men. An estimated 480,000 women die of cardiovascular disease every year, more than the total number of cardiovascular disease-related deaths in men, or the next four causes of death combined, according to the heart association.

Unchecked high blood pressure -- also known as hypertension -- can produce terrible systemic damage and disease. It can lead to a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, blindness and a host of other medical problems.

Despite this, a large segment of women aren't adequately addressing their hypertension.

"Only about 60 percent of women with high blood pressure are having it controlled," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of New York University Medical Center's Women's Heart Program, and a spokeswoman for the "Go Red for Women" campaign. "When you bring your blood pressure down, you cut your stroke risk in half and risk of heart attack by 25 percent."

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