LOS ANGELES – A study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has found that women have a lower normal blood pressure range than men, the hospital said Monday.
Established blood pressure guidelines state that women and men have the same normal healthy range of blood pressure. But the study from the hospital’s Smidt Heart Institute found that while 120 mmHg was the threshold of risk in men, 110 mmHg or lower was the threshold of risk in women.
“Our latest findings suggest that this one-size-fits-all approach to considering blood pressure may be detrimental to a woman’s health,” said Dr. Susan Cheng, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging at the Smidt Heart Institute and senior author of the study. “Based on our research results, we recommend that the medical community reassess blood pressure guidelines that do not account for sex differences.”
The hospital said that for years, 120 mmHg has been considered the normal upper limit for systolic blood pressure in adults. Persistent elevations above this limit amount to hypertension, which is well known as the key risk factor for common cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
The study comprised more than 27,000 participants, 54% of whom were women. The findings were published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation.
“We are now pushed to rethink what we thought was a normal blood pressure that might keep a woman or a man safe from developing heart disease or stroke,” added Cheng, who also serves as director of cardiovascular population sciences at the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and is the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Population Science.
As a next step, researchers plan to study whether women should be treated for hypertension when their systolic blood pressure is higher than 110, but still lower than the systolic measurement of 120 for men.