Women's Hypertension Tougher to Control

Published Online: Monday, March 1, 2004

Blood pressure medications do not lower women's blood pressure readings as much as they do for men, concluded a study presented at the American Heart Association's annual conference on November 12, 2003. The study raises a whole new set of questions for researchers, such as are women getting the medications in adequate doses, or is blood pressure simply harder to control in women?

Using data from 2 other heart disease studies in progress, the researchers included 2091 women and 5084 men.The study results showed that nearly 2/3 of the women and half of the men had hypertension. The women's average systolic blood pressure was slightly higher than the men's, 150 mm Hg versus 147 mm Hg. Also, the women with high blood pressure tended to be older and were more likely to have reduced kidney function, diabetes, and a history of heart failure.

Physicians usually treat high blood pressure with angiotensinconverting enzyme inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics. In an analysis of medications, the researchers discovered that ~35% of women, compared with 30% of men, were on 2 medications for their high blood pressure. In addition, 16% of women were taking 3 or more drugs to control their hypertension, compared with 13% of men.

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