Blood pressure readings over 120/80 mmHg, or millimeters of mercury, usually is an indication of high blood pressure. According to the National Heart and Lung Institute, an estimated 65 million people are diagnosed with high blood pressure in the U.S. and half are women. High blood pressure, or HBP, contributes to strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure. Although high blood pressure is most common among older people age 50 and up, the number of young women diagnosed with high blood pressure is increasing. The three most common risk factors for high blood pressure in women 35 and under are pregnancy, drugs and diet. Suffers of high blood pressure are encouraged to seek medical attention.
Women who are pregnant are at risk for developing high blood pressure called gestational hypertension. This condition can be mild or severe but normally goes away after pregnancy. Blood pressure readings of 140/90 or higher is considered dangerous levels for pregnant women. Women who already have pre-existing or chronic high blood pressure are at risk of having complications during pregnancy. The most severe cases can lead to preeclampsia. According to the National Heart and Lung Institute, preeclampsia is a condition that typically starts after the 20th week of pregnancy and is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine. Also known as toxemia of pregnancy, this condition can threaten the life of both mother and child.
Both legal and illegal drugs are another contributing factor for high blood pressure. According to Highbloodpressure.name, drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and birth control pills have been proven to increase fat, water retention and thinning of the arteries. An increase in any of these will lead to high blood pressure. Birth control medication contains progesterone, which affects the body’s chemistry, particularly the blood pressure in women. Drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can cause the body to retain fluid and decrease the function of the kidneys. This may cause the blood pressure to rise higher, thus placing greater stress on the heart and kidneys. Pregnant women who are using any type of drug medication should be under a doctor’s supervision.
A diet high in salt, fat and cholesterol can increase a woman’s chances of developing high blood pressure early in life. An unhealthy diet can lead to obesity, which will put a woman more at risk for hypertension. A high cholesterol diet can eventually lead to blood clots due to high blood pressure. Intake of salt must also be limited. According to American Associated of Kidney Patients, excessive salt keeps the circulatory volume higher than it should be by exerting excess fluid pressure on blood vessel walls. If there is a family history of hypertension, it is essential to limit the intake of such foods and adopt a healthier lifestyle.