Women who tend to have high blood pressure (HBP) should be particularly vigilant if they are on oral contraceptives, are pregnant, or on hormone replacement therapy.
Women on oral contraceptives (OC) experience small but detectable increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, usually in the normal range. If it runs higher than normal make sure you talk to your doctor about it. Women taking OCs who are 35 years and older and who smoke cigarettes are at even greater risk for heart disease and stroke and are encouraged to quit smoking. If they are unable to quit smoking, they should talk to their doctor about using other forms of contraception.
Most studies show that blood pressure does not increase significantly with hormone replacement therapy in most women with and without high blood pressure. However, a few women may experience a rise in blood pressure attributable to estrogen therapy. It is recommended that women on HRT have their blood pressure monitored more often.
Many woman with HBP can have healthy babies but HBP during pregnancy can be dangerous for both mother and fetus. Women with pre-existing, or chronic, high blood pressure are more likely to have certain complications during pregnancy than those with normal blood pressure. Some women who have normal blood pressure before pregnancy may develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, called gestational hypertension. The effects of high blood pressure range from mild to severe. High PB can harm the mother's kidneys and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery. In the most serious cases, the mother develops pre-eclampsia or "toxemia of pregnancy" which can be life threatening. More guidance for handling HPB during pregnancy can be found HERE.
Below is a chart for average normal blood pressure ranges. However, age can effect the range, with slightly higher normal ranges as one ages.
|Systolic pressure (mm Hg)||Diastolic pressure (mm Hg)||Pressure Range|
|130||85||High Normal Blood Pressure|
|120||80||Normal Blood Pressure|
|110||75||Low Normal Blood Pressure|
Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute