Currently, hypertension is a significant medical challenge to be addressed, as it leads to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. It elevates the risk of stroke, heart disease, aneurysm, and can be a cause of death. In general, blood pressure (BP) is the force with which blood presses the arteries’ walls. Hypertension is when the BP is higher than normal and is equal to or more than 130/90 (Nadar & Lip, 2015). Hypertension can be caused by a variety of factors such as genetics, diet, age, and lifestyle. According to Gillis and Sullivan (2016), heart disease is the primary cause of death among American people, while high BP is its main risk factor. Sex differences are spotted in the asperity and incidence of hypertension. Despite the similar BP regulation mechanisms in females and males, there are some differences between them at the biological and social levels.
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Primary hypertension usually emerges as a consequence of long-lasting influence exerted by an individual’s environment, lifestyle, body change, and diet. Secondary hypertension is when the patient suffers from elevated BP due to health issues and medicine, such as kidney problems. Continuous high intake of fat, salt, and cholesterol food, limited physical activity, obesity, stress, alcohol, and tobacco abuse are among common causes of hypertension. Typical hypertension gender differences are usually associated with the age of individuals. Choi et al. (2017) revealed that during the reproductive years, “the prevalence of hypertension was higher in men (34.6%) than in women (30.8%)” (p. 3). Nevertheless, among men and women who reached 60 years, the situation is the opposite, with more females suffering from elevated BP. The same is true for hypertension control, which is generally higher among females. In general, aging increases the risk of being diagnosed with hypertension.
Such a change in statistics for those who reached 60 years old is usually explained by menopause that occurs in females. Due to the shifts in hormones caused by menopause, females often put on weight, and their BP becomes more responsive to consumed salt. Even though women have lower BP, 50% of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease occur in females (Colafella & Denton, 2018). It also means that older men have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than women of the same age.
The immune system, the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), and the sympathetic nervous systems have different activation among genders. More anti-inflammatory immune profile of women performs the task of a compensatory mechanism that decreases BP, while men have a pro-inflammatory immune profile (Gillis & Sullivan, 2016). Typical sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are believed to play an essential role in cardioprotection by controlling vascular relaxation and constrictions (Colafella & Denton, 2018). Variations in cell aging mmechanismsexplain limited damage to organs exerted by hypertension and increased lifetime in women compared to men. Hence, biological differences that exist at the cellular, tissue, and molecular levels contribute to gender variations of hypertension.
Furthermore, environmental and lifestyle dimensions also may explain the reasons for sex variations of elevated BP. According to Colafella and Denton (2018), obesity brings a higher risk of hypertension for females than males. Obesity leads to a decrease in cardioprotection, which means that cardiovascular disease may occur at an earlier age. The lifestyle causes of hypertension are also varied between males and females. In general, the development of this health issue in men is usually related to alcohol intake, smoking, and work-related stress. Those bad habits very often become the main causes of heart attacks and strokes. In contrast, women who are overweight reached menopause, or use specific hormone medicine are more prone to cardiovascular issues. According to Choi et al. (2017), the leading causes of hypertension among females are low education, old age, and obesity. On the contrary, males of old age, who consume alcohol, have low income and obesity are positively associated with hypertension occurrence.
It is the moment when diet comes to the forefront as an important element of hypertension treatment. Early presented findings suggest that men should moderate alcohol and tobacco consumption in order to decrease the risks, while women should primarily decrease salt intake and manage their body weight, especially during menopause. In general, people who want to avoid hypertension should eat less fat, more vegetables, fruits, and be sure that calorie intake is suitable.
The DASH diet is designed to help people with high BP pressure to reduce the presence of fat in the bloodstream and decrease the risk of adverse outcomes. Siervo et al. (2015) found that the DASH reduces the “systolic BP (- 5·2 mmHg, 95% CI – 7·0, – 3·4; P< 0·001) and diastolic BP ( – 2·6 mmHg, 95% CI – 3·5, – 1·7; P< 0·001)” (p. 1). Moreover, this kind of diet is capable of lowering LDL and cholesterol concentration. The research pointed at this nutritional strategy’s effectiveness for thconcentrationsincreased cardiometabolic risk.
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To conclude, hypertension increases the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and other adverse complications. Sex variations in hypertension among women and men are explained by different features of the immune, the RAAS, and the sympathetic nervous systems. Females and males also lead different lifestyles, that contribute to the gender variations. A healthy diet is an important element helping to prevent or decrease hightor to avoid further cardiovascular implications. New treatment strategies that are based on sex differences are needed to improve the affected people of both genders.
- Choi, H. M., Kim, H. C., & Kang, D. R. (2017). Sex differences in hypertension prevalence and control: Analysis of the 2010-2014 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. PloS One, 12(5), 1-12. Web.
- Colafella, K. M. M., & Denton, K. M. (2018). Sex-specific differences in hypertension and associated cardiovascular disease. Nature Reviews Nephrology, 14(3), 185.
- Gillis, E. E., & Sullivan, J. C. (2016). Sex differences in hypertension: Recent advances. Hypertension, 68(6), 1322-1327. Web.
- Nadar, S. & Lip, G. Y. H. (2015) Hypertension (2d ed.) Oxford University Press.
- Siervo, M., Lara, J., Chowdhury, S., Ashor, A., Oggioni, C., & Mathers, J. C. (2015). Effects of the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet on cardiovascular risk factors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(1), 1-15. Web.