Canadian Journal of Cardiology

Cardiovascular Risk in Women: Focus on Hypertension

  • Beth L. Abramson
    Corresponding author: Dr Beth L. Abramson, Cardiac Prevention Centre and Women's Cardiovascular Health, St. Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond St 6 -050 Queen Wing, Toronto, Ontario M5B-1W8, Canada. Tel.: +1-416-864-5424; fax: +1-416-864-5974.
    University of Toronto, Cardiac Prevention Centre and Women's Cardiovascular Health, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Rochelle G. Melvin
    University of Toronto, Cardiac Prevention Centre and Women's Cardiovascular Health, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Published:March 03, 2014DOI:


      Hypertension is a major concern in women, contributing to the risk for morbidity and mortality and the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD), heart attack, and stroke. A woman's risk for the development of hypertension increases with age. Although it also affects younger women, hypertension is prevalent in approximately 60% of women >65 years of age. In addition to age, there are specific risk factors and lifestyle contributors for the development of hypertension in women, including obesity, ethnicity, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Risk reduction strategies need to be used to help reduce hypertension; maintaining a healthy body weight through diet and exercise, reduced sodium intake, and lower alcohol intake are a few of the approaches for hypertension risk reduction in women. There are several proposed mechanisms for the development of hypertension that are unique to women and pertain to the aging-related elevated risk for hypertension resulting from falling estrogen levels during menopause. Oral contraceptives, pre-eclampsia and polycystic ovary syndrome are special considerations concerning the development and progression of hypertension in women. There are significant awareness issues and care gaps in the treatment of hypertension in women. Therefore, these problems must be faced and efforts need to be taken to resolve the issues surrounding the treatment and control of hypertension in women.


      L’hypertension artérielle qui est une préoccupation majeure chez les femmes contribue au risque de morbidité et de mortalité, et au développement de maladie cardiovasculaire (MCV), de crise cardiaque et d’accident cérébral vasculaire. Le risque de développement de l’hypertension chez la femme augmente avec l’âge. Bien qu’elle se manifeste également chez les plus jeunes femmes, l’hypertension est courante chez environ 60 % des femmes âgées de > 65 ans. En plus de l’âge, il existe des facteurs de risque spécifiques et des causes liées au mode de vie dans le développement de l’hypertension chez les femmes, dont l’obésité, l’ethnicité, le diabète et la néphropathie chronique. Des stratégies de réduction du risque doivent être utilisées pour aider à réduire l’hypertension; le maintien d’un poids santé au moyen du régime et de l’exercice, la réduction de l’apport en sodium et la diminution de la consommation d’alcool sont quelques-unes des approches pour réduire le risque d’hypertension chez les femmes. Plusieurs des mécanismes proposés dans le développement de l’hypertension n’existent que chez les femmes et concernent le risque élevé d’hypertension liée à l’âge et provoquée par la chute de la concentration en œstrogènes au cours de la ménopause. Les contraceptifs oraux, la prééclampsie et le syndrome des ovaires polykystiques sont des aspects particuliers à prendre en considération concernant le développement et la progression de l’hypertension chez les femmes. Il y a d’importants problèmes de sensibilisation et des lacunes en matière de soins concernant le traitement de l’hypertension chez les femmes. Par conséquent, ces problèmes doivent être surmontés et des efforts doivent être déployés pour résoudre les problèmes entourant le traitement et le contrôle de l’hypertension chez les femmes.
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