Which Gender Has More High Blood Pressure?

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MAJOR risk factors for heart disease are thought to be mainly men's domain. But 6 million more women than men in the US have high blood pressure--about 36 million as opposed to 30 million. Furthermore, while the incidence of high blood pressure peaks for men in the 45-to-54 age group and then declines some, it just keeps going up for women as they get older.

Those are the findings of government and university researchers tallying statistics for adults 18 and older. They also found that high blood pressure, or hypertension, now affects almost one in three American adults--more than 65 million people--as opposed to roughly one in four adults in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Hypertension raises the risk not only for heart disease but also kidney failure, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions. Women, as well as men, should be vigilant about lifestyle steps that can both keep blood pressure in check and reduce it should it increase: shed excess pounds, if necessary; get regular, moderate physical activity; keep processed foods to a minimum because they tend to be high in sodium; and limit alcohol (to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men).

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