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As in men, the normal blood pressure for women is 120/80, or "120 over 80." Women face the same risk factors affecting men as well, such as diet and lack of exercise. In addition, women might have to contend with gender-specific issues such as pregnancy, contraception and menopause.
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the blood on the walls of the blood vessels. The standard format for recording blood pressure is actually two readings, measured in milligrams of mercury (mm/Hg). The first number, the systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure during a pulse. The diastolic blood pressure, the pressure between heartbeats, is the second number.
Normal blood pressure for women is 120/80. In this case, “normal” does not mean “typical” or “average,” but rather the healthy ideal. High blood pressure is the more obvious risk, but when pressure veers away from this ideal, either too high or too low, serious consequences can result.
Avoiding certain risk factors can help promote normal blood pressure for women and reduce the risk of high or low blood pressure. Smoking, alcohol, obesity, and diets that are high in sodium or cholesterol can all contribute to high blood pressure, and removing these factors will help bring blood pressure down. Regular exercise is another important step in maintaining normal blood pressure.
Hormonal shifts can have an effect on normal blood pressure for women. Some women might experience an increase in blood pressure while taking oral contraceptives. Factors such as family history and weight might make this increase more likely. Regular monitoring of blood pressure is advised for women taking these tablets, and any questions or concerns should be referred to a medical professional.
Pregnancy can also cause blood pressure to rise. Women already under treatment for high blood pressure should speak with a doctor if pregnancy is suspected. Some treatments can affect the fetus, and prescriptions might need to be changed. The doctor might also recommend changes in diet and lifestyle to keep the blood pressure under control.
During pregnancy, the normal blood pressure for women can dip as well, causing low blood pressure. Women might experience dizziness, fatigue, depression, nausea or weakness, and when these symptoms are present, a visit to the doctor is in order. The doctor is likely to recommend changes to the diet, plenty of fluid and light exercise.
The normal blood pressure for women might be disrupted by menopause as well. Until later life, men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women, but women older than 65 are actually more likely than men to develop high blood pressure. After menopause, a woman might experience a jump in blood pressure of up to 5 mm/Hg because of hormonal changes.