About 12 million Americans with high blood pressure don’t know they have the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The “silent killer” raises the likelihood of a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke when it’s not caught early enough or adequately treated. The stakes might be even higher for women, who often don’t realize they’re at risk. 

The study found that blood pressure starts rising earlier and advances faster in women. That’s why it’s critical women pay closer attention to their blood pressure.

To keep safe, here are some things women should know about blood pressure:

Regular blood pressure checks are key

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that blood pressure be monitored once a year. Because they see an OB-GYN for primary care, many young women don’t get their blood pressure checked as regularly as they should.

But you don’t have to wait to see a doctor keep tabs on your blood pressure. The home devices are effective and can range in price. There are many affordable options available.

Protecting yourself also extends to the prevention

Interventions and lifestyle changes can make a big difference in keeping your blood pressure within the healthy range. Obesity increases hypertension risk, and women are more likely to be obese than men.

Women are at risk for health complications related to blood pressure

High blood pressure could be even more serious for young women than young men, according to the study findings.

Women’s veins age faster than men’s, according to the study, thus a 30-year-old woman with hypertension is more likely than a male counterpart to suffer cardiovascular problems.

Be your advocate

While one high reading might not necessarily mean a problem, when women have their blood pressure read, elevated results can be dismissed.

Arm yourself with facts, including your medical history, and be ready to ask questions or get a second medical opinion if needed.

Guidelines could change as more research emerges

The latest research that found gender differences in high blood pressure is observational and isn’t enough to warrant new recommendations.

Better understanding health differences between the genders is the easiest way to deliver personalized medicine that works better for both women and men.