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Hypertension: women are more at risk than men as they age
Around 20 to 30 million Germans have high blood pressure. But even though women are more at risk than men as they get older, hypertension is still often underestimated. According to experts, the previous educational work has so far been primarily geared towards men.
Many hypertension patients are not treated
Around 20 to 30 million suffer from high blood pressure in Germany. If this is not treated, serious secondary diseases such as heart attack and stroke are at risk. But: "In the meantime, the proportion of hypertension patients who are being treated to lower their blood pressure has risen to two thirds; after all, 50 percent are receiving controlled treatment," explains Professor Dr. med. Bernhard Krämer, Chairman of the German High Pressure League e. V. (DHL) in a communication on World Hypertension Day 2017 on May 17th. But that also means that around a quarter of people with high blood pressure are not treated at all and the other half are not adequately treated. Hypertension is often underestimated, especially in women.
Typical male suffering
Hypertension and myocardial infarction were formerly considered to be typical male ailments: The patient - as the popular image is - has practically “worked out” his high pressure through occupational stress and then promoted him through alcohol and nicotine, DHL wrote in a current report.
Hypertension was therefore often not considered or recognized too late in women. With increasing age, women are even more at risk than men.
Menopausal women in particular are often more susceptible to high blood pressure.
Women are more at risk than men as they age
"From 65 years of age, hypertension is diagnosed more often in women than in men," explains Dr. Ute Seeland from the Institute for Gender Research in Medicine at the Charité in Berlin.
In the meantime, there are even some risk factors that are considered to be typically female. The risk of hypertension increases two to three times when women take the pill and are also, for example, overweight.
High blood pressure during pregnancy also increases the risk of developing overt hypertension within ten years.
“The women concerned urgently need to be perceived as a risk group. Educational campaigns should address these specifically and participate in cardiovascular risk assessment studies, ”Dr. Zealand.
The previous educational work - for example about smoking - was primarily geared towards men.
Do not overestimate the hormonal protective effect
One reason why women have been neglected as a target group for a long time is the vascular protection mediated by female estrogens. In middle years, women are therefore less likely to develop hypertension than men.
But the hormonal protective effect should not be overestimated, Dr. warns Zealand. "If 77 percent of hypertension patients have already had menopause, it also means that 23 percent are affected before menopause," says the Charité doctor.
The expert points out yet another point why hypertension in women needs to be given special attention: "Women live longer on average than men, which is why the phase of secondary illnesses is usually longer for women than for men."
Hypertension sometimes needs to be treated lifelong
The diagnosis of “high blood pressure” is a disease that must be treated consistently and over the long term - sometimes for a lifetime.
You do not have to resort to medication in all cases to lower your blood pressure. Often a healthier lifestyle and home remedies for high blood pressure also help.
In general, smoking cessation, adequate exercise, a low-salt diet and avoiding being overweight are recommended.
In addition, relaxation exercises to relieve stress, such as yoga or autogenic training, can be very effective and positively influence high blood pressure values.
Some home remedies such as Kneipp applications can offer good support. But for some patients, neither natural measures nor medicines help. (ad)