High blood pressure, or hypertension, results when blood attempts to pump through arteries that are too narrow. High blood pressure affects both women and men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after menopause, according to MayoClinic.com. Women who smoke, are obese, or who have other circulatory or heart conditions have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
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High blood pressure generally has no symptoms until it has advanced to a dangerous level, called hypertensive crisis. A woman should have her blood pressure checked yearly to evaluate for hypertension, or anytime she has symptoms of hypertensive crisis or other concerns about her blood pressure.
Hypertension symptoms do not appear until blood pressure is extremely high. The heart attempts to supply enough blood to the lungs, brain and other organs for proper functioning. If narrow arteries are present, blood can flow through the constricted arteries but at a much slower pace than the brain requires. Blood pressure can rise as the heart pumps more to feed the brain, while insufficient blood actually flows through. A woman can experience dizziness or sudden, extreme headache if her blood pressure rises too high in response to the blood flow imbalance. The American Heart Association warns that hypertension does not usually cause headache unless hypertensive crisis is occurring.
Shortness of Breath
A woman may have trouble breathing if her blood pressure has become dangerously high, or if she is suffering from pulmonary hypertension in which blood supply to the lungs is affected. She may notice chest pressure or pain and have the feeling of not getting enough air when she takes a breath. In some cases, a woman may notice mild breathing difficulty that becomes worse. Alternately, she may experience shortness of breath that is sudden and not able to be linked to any known cause.
Women may experience additional symptoms of high blood pressure, usually after it has gone untreated for a long time or has developed into hypertensive crisis. Cedar Sinai Medical Center classifies a high blood pressure crisis as a blood pressure of more than 180/110. Additional symptoms of this emergency are a sudden onset of swelling in the ankles or abdomen, nausea, vomiting or blurred vision. Any one symptom that is new or combination of symptoms should be evaluated for possible hypertension complications.