Hypertension and the Woman Veteran
Hypertension is often underestimated or goes undiagnosed because there has been a misconception that women have a lower risk than men for Cardiovascular Disease. This is not true. The key to defeating this ailment is to control your Blood Pressure. Controlling your Blood Pressure will, in turn, reduce the incidence rate of disease as well as death resulting from disease. This is easier said than done. Approximately 2/3 of treated women with Hypertension still have uncontrolled Blood Pressure. The current accepted guidelines for treatment are the same for both men and women, but there seems to be special factors that are unique to women.
This author has read between 25 to 30 different studies on Hypertension in women on the Internet. Most of the studies were written for health care professionals, which I am not. In order to understand most of these studies, I gave my copy of Grey’s Anatomy a workout it has not had since my forensic anthropology course in college. There are not any common conclusions, but one study seemed to have a theory to which some of the other studies hint at as credible.
The latest theory on Hypertension in women seems to be related to a rather complicated dance of balancing the overall chemical reactions within body between the sex hormones, the renin-angiotensin system, the redox state of your body cells, the endothelium system, weight gain and the sympathetic nervous system. In other words, if any of these systems is not working just right in conjunction with each of the others, the result most likely is Hypertension.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that women were more likely to be treated for their High Blood Pressure than men, but less likely to realize Blood Pressure control. A study out of Sweden validates female physicians are more successful than men physicians in reaching Blood Pressure control in their female patients. Physical inactivity, being overweight, smoking and alcohol consumption are negative contributors to Blood Pressure control especially in the 35 to 54 year old age group.
Weight Control is the one factor that is cited as being very important in gaining Blood Pressure control. For most women, weight control is easier said than done. You can lower your caloric intake, lower your salt intake, limit your intake of processed sugars, and increase you activity level. The unfortunate thing is because of a woman’s physiology, you must, for example, walk 1.5 miles to burn the same number of calories as a man does walking 1 mile. The woman’s body is a complex organism and it must be treated as such.
There are many other factors that have been cited as contributing factors to Hypertension. I am sure we all understand that High Blood Pressure is not something with which to trifle. If you have it, you need to be under a doctor’s care. If you are making progress towards Blood Pressure control – Great! If you are not, find another doctor. The Veterans Administration recognizes the problems of Hypertension in Women Veterans and has made their care a priority, but at least a full 30% fail to seek help through VA Healthcare Benefits according to the Women Veterans Task Force. You need to do what it takes to live a long life.
Statistics you should know:
--Currently, about 10% of U.S. Veterans are Women.
--14% of Active Duty Military are Women and 18% are National Guard or Reservists.
--Average age of Women Veterans is 48.
--It is estimated that 58% of women between the ages of 65 to 74 suffer from Hypertension.
--Approximately 40% of Stroke Cases in women are related to High Blood Pressure.
--Approximately 39% of Myocardial Infarction Cases in women are related to High Blood Pressure.
--Approximately 28% of End Stage Renal Disease in women is related to High Blood Pressure.
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