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August 2008 Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource Highlights Avoiding Blood Pressure Increase at Menopause, Healthful Benefits of Dark Chocolate and Scheduling a Colorectal Exam
Date:8/6/2008

ROCHESTER, Minn., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Here are highlights from the August issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource attribution is required. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit http://www.bookstore.mayoclinic.com or call toll-free for subscription information, 800-876-8633, extension 9751.

Ways to Avoid Blood Pressure Increase at Menopause

Five steps to lower blood pressure

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Before menopause, women have a blood pressure advantage.

Women's blood pressure starts out lower than men's, but the advantage doesn't last. The August issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers insights on blood pressure changes in women and steps to avoid high blood pressure.

Women's systolic pressure -- the top number in the blood pressure reading and the one that's more closely associated with heart disease risk and stroke in people over age 50 -- increases by about 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) with menopause. A study done between 2001 and 2003 among people over age 60 showed that women had a higher systolic blood pressure than did men in every state in America. According to the report, women tended to think they didn't have high blood pressure when, in fact, they did.

For healthy adults, blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg is desirable. Untreated high blood pressure can cause the heart to work too hard. As a result, the walls of arteries can harden and impede blood flow. Restricted blood flow can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and dementia.

When blood pressure rises above normal, it's essential to work with a doctor on a treatment plan to control the condition. The plan might include medications as well as these basic steps. Even on
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