Women do a lot to take care of everyone else, which is why their own health sometimes takes a backseat. This is just one of the reasons why there’s a fair amount of confusion and misinformation surrounding women’s heart health.
One common misconception is that high blood pressure is more common in men, but close to half of adults with hypertension are women. In fact, women over 65 are more likely to have high blood pressure than men.
If those stats have you startled, don’t panic. While women may have some serious hurdles when it comes to heart health, there are also some simple solutions. Check out a few of these factors that can impact women’s blood pressure and some heart health tips to reduce your BP.
Catch some zzz’s
Here’s a not-so-fun fact – women have more trouble sleeping than men. From there, the news only gets worse since women actually need about 20 more minutes of sleep each night due to their increased brain activity during the day (Sorry, guys. It’s science). This loss of sleep makes it harder to concentrate during the day and manage stress, which in turn can elevate your blood pressure.
Now for the good news. Getting a good night’s sleep can start with simple changes like banishing all electronics from the bedroom and establishing a consistent bedtime and wakeup time (yes, even on the weekends). Keep in mind that everyone has restless nights every now and then, so don’t stress, stick to your plan, and you’ll be on your way to bright-eyed mornings and healthier heart.
Another way to get a good night’s sleep is to ensure that you have enough physical activity in your day. Exercise is also one of the best ways to lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure. So, think of this as hitting two birds with one stone.
Cardio activities like walking or running are great options, but don’t forget to include some resistance (weights) to your workout too. Women, for various reasons, tend to skip the weights at the gym. To put it bluntly, that’s a huge mistake. In addition to lowering your blood pressure, adding just a few minutes of weight training to your routine can improve your metabolism and ward off osteoporosis.
Talk about it
Did you know that women are more than twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder? If left untreated, this can lead to serious damage caused by blood pressure spikes. Stigmas are still very much a problem when it comes to seeking help for mental health, which can stop some from seeking help.
If you do suffer from anxiety, talking about it can be the first step towards improvement. Confiding in a close group of friends can help to reduce stress. If you’re still feeling anxious, talk to your doctor. They can help you get to the root of what’s causing your anxiety and help plan a course of treatment.
Self care ≠ selfish
Women, especially, face both internal and external guilt when it comes to self care. But taking time for yourself is necessary to maintain not only your physical health but your mental health as well. And both can have a direct impact on your blood pressure.
Self care doesn’t have to be a day at the spa or a weekend away from the family. Although, it can be. Smaller things, like daily meditation, yoga, or writing in a journal, can help keep you centered and healthy. Basically, it can be anything that allows you to disconnect, de-stress, and check-in with you.
To review, there are many ways to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, ladies. At the heart of each one of them is one basic idea: put yourself and your health first. It may seem selfish. It’s not. By putting your health first, you’ll be able to better help others. That’s a win for you, your blood pressure, and everyone else.