Current systolic blood pressure guideline too high for women, study suggests

Women have a lower normal blood pressure range than men, according to new research from the Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles. Current blood pressure guidelines do not account for these differences and therefore may put women at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers said.

For the study, published Feb. 15 in Circulation, researchers analyzed blood pressure readings for 27,542 people collected as part of four community-based cohort studies. Fifty-four percent of participants were women.

Researchers found that men's risk of cardiovascular disease increased after their blood pressure hit 120 mmHg — widely considered the normal upper limit for systolic blood pressure. However, this threshold was 110 mmHG for women. Systolic blood pressure levels above this figure for women were linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure or stroke.

"Our latest findings suggest that this one-size-fits-all approach to considering blood pressure may be detrimental to a woman's health," senior study author Susan Cheng, MD, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging at the Smidt Heart Institute, said in a news release. "Based on our research results, we recommend that the medical community reassess blood pressure guidelines that do not account for sex differences."

To view the full study, click here.

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