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

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Comments

Hi there, I went through a scary time last year with high blood pressure which came out of nowhere. As a result I started a website which pulls together on an ongoing basis all the relevant news and info on high blood pressure remedies which gets updated several times a week. Some of the info I have found have been priceless Jonathan

Thiis is very helpful information. Yoga and the practice of deep relaxation during pregnacy can also help reduce HBP. Always make sure that the Yoga you choose is safe to do during pregnancy.There are postures that can harm you. Yoga Instructor, Debie

My wife had gestational HBP to the point where we were concerned for her and our baby's health, but her MD didn't put her on any meds. Can pregnant women safely take BP meds? Thanks. Chris H. Editor's comment: There are cardiologists who specialize in caring for women with heart problems including HBP. It may be worth a consult.

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