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Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries. It is often measured along with the vital signs like pulse rate, etc. It is measured in two parts: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure is the maximum pressure exerted by blood on the arteries during the contraction of the left ventricle of the heart. On the other hand, diastolic pressure is the minimum pressure exerted by blood on the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats.

Normal Blood Pressure in Women

Ideally, the blood pressure reading should be 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). The first figure refers to the systolic pressure, while the second figure represents the diastolic pressure. It is measured by a sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure could be an indicator of the pumping capacity of the heart, which is why medical help must be sought if blood pressure levels are abnormal. High blood pressure and low blood pressure are medically referred to as hypertension and hypotension respectively. You can go through the following chart to know the normal blood pressure range for women.

BPStages
210/120Very high
160/100High
140/90Borderline high
130/85High/Normal
120/80Normal
110/75Low/Normal
90/60Borderline low
60/40Low
50/33Very low

Note: If blood pressure readings are often above 140/90 mm Hg, one is diagnosed with hypertension. Note that medical help must also be sought if blood pressure consistently falls between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg. People with blood pressure in this range are diagnosed with prehypertension. Making lifestyle changes can certainly lower the risk of hypertension in these people.

Factors affecting Blood Pressure in Women

The fluctuations in blood pressure levels could be associated with factors such as age, lifestyle, pregnancy, weight, menopause, family history, etc.

Age
Average blood pressure increases with age. After the age of 50, one in every two women maybe affected by high blood pressure. Given below is an age-wise average blood pressure range. Please note that the table mentions blood pressure only up to a certain age because with old age a lot of factors come into play. It is not possible to come up with a normal range as the overall health may vary from one individual to another.

AgeBP (mm Hg)
15-19117/77
20-24120/79
25-29121/80
30-34122/81
35-39123/82
40-44125/83
45-49127/84
50-54129/85
55-59131/86
60-64134/87

Lifestyle
Blood pressure levels could get affected by the lifestyle choices we make. Risk of high blood pressure increases with the lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, stress, etc. The use of birth control pills or intake of certain substances like caffeine or nicotine could also affect the blood pressure. To maintain a healthy blood pressure, you must maintain a healthy weight. Following a healthy diet, and saying no to alcohol and smoking can certainly help.

Pregnancy
Blood pressure often fluctuates during pregnancy. The progesterone hormone, which prepares the uterus for pregnancy, dilates the blood vessels, thereby lowering the blood pressure. On the other hand, as blood provides all the nutrients and oxygen to the embryo, the heart has to work overtime to pump blood to the placenta. This may lead to an increase in the blood pressure. Frequent blood pressure checks are required during pregnancy to prevent preeclampsia, which is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and fluid retention.

Weight
Obesity makes one susceptible to high blood pressure. This is because of the deposition of fat on the inner linings of arteries. This decreases the lumen area of the artery, which in turn raises the blood pressure. Normal blood pressure can be maintained by following a balanced diet, and an exercise regimen.

Menopause
Blood pressure levels could fluctuate during menopause, due to a fall in the levels of estrogen, which is a hormone that is partly responsible for maintaining blood pressure. Sometimes, the hormonal imbalance may cause weight gain, which in turn may elevate blood pressure. The increase may also be due to hormone therapy that some menopausal women undergo.

Family History
If your parents have high blood pressure, you are at a greater risk of developing hypertension. Maintain a chart of your family members and immediate relatives who have high blood pressure. If more than one of your close relatives developed high blood pressure before the age of 60, then you too are at a risk.

In general, normal blood pressure levels can be maintained by making the right lifestyle choices. Around 25 million women in the US suffer from high blood pressure, and an equal number from low blood pressure. Hence, it is important to have your blood pressure checked at regular intervals.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.