National Women's Blood Pressure Awareness Week

National Women's Blood Pressure Awareness Week

National Women’s Blood Pressure Awareness Week (NWBPAW) is a weeklong observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH). The observance, which will take place October 11-17, 2020 will highlight the importance of blood pressure control and monitoring among all women, with an emphasis on women ages 18-44. NWBPAW will empower women to take control of their health by sharing everyday actions they can take to maintain a healthy blood pressure and improve their overall heart health.

Why is the focus on women ages 18-44?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 27.7% of women have hypertension (high blood pressure). Nearly 50% of these women have uncontrolled hypertension. Women of reproductive age (18-44) with hypertension are at an increased risk for mortality due to cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, hypertension, and related complications is second only to hemorrhage as the most common cause of maternal death internationally. The CDC also found that pre-eclampsia and eclampsia were related to 6.6% of maternal deaths during pregnancy, 9.3% of deaths within 42 days after pregnancy, and 5.4% of deaths 43 days to 1 year after pregnancy. Data suggests that efforts to improve blood pressure control among women of reproductive age could improve the overall health of women and reduce maternal mortality.

Throughout the week, OWH will share messages to promote a daily theme around high blood pressure or hypertension awareness.


Heart Disease in Women

In the United States, almost one in four women dies from heart disease. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in American Women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Causes of Death, All races, female, all ages-United States, 2014. Detailed Tables for the National Vital Statistics Report.)

Find out your risk for heart disease and ways to prevent it.


High Blood Pressure in Women

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Blood pressure is the force your blood makes against your artery walls when your heart beats. If this force is too high, it can damage your arteries.

High blood pressure usually shows no symptoms. Regularly checking and monitoring your blood pressure helps you know when it is elevated and what impacts your blood pressure.   Measure your blood pressure to find out your numbers:

  • Systolic (the top number) is the pressure as your heart beats or pumps blood into your arteries.
  • Diastolic (the bottom number) is the pressure when your heart is at rest.

To lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, try to maintain your blood pressure at less than 120 systolic/80 diastolic.

Find out more about maintaining healthy blood pressure.


Understanding and Controlling Hypertension

Your risk for high blood pressure increases as you age. Two out of every three women ages 60 and older have high blood pressure.1

You are also more likely to have high blood pressure if you have a family history of high blood pressure. Other risk factors include diet, lack of exercise, and obesity.

To lower your blood pressure:

  1. Lose weight, according to your doctor’s recommendation. Learn more in our Healthy Weight section.
  2. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days, or 150 minutes of activity each week. Learn more in our Getting Active section.
  3. Stop smoking. Find resources to help you quit at
  4. Eat healthy.
  5. Lower sodium in your diet. Learn more in our Healthy Eating section.
  6. Moderate or stop alcohol consumption.
  7. Take blood pressure medicine, according to your doctor’s prescription.

Find out more about controlling blood pressure.


Monitor Your Blood Pressure Daily

Measure your blood pressure regularly to help your health care team diagnose any health concerns early. You and your health care team can take steps to control your blood pressure if it is too high.

Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring.

SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device at home, work, or another setting outside of a doctor’s office or hospital. These blood pressure monitors are safe and easy to use. If you need assistance, a health care team member can help.

Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they do not use SMBP.1

Learn the proper way to measure your blood pressure and factors that can affect your blood pressure reading. Use this blood pressure log pdf (611KB - PDF) to record your measurements.


Develop Healthy Heart Habits to Lower Blood Pressure

Many factors increase the risk of high blood pressure. Some risk factors, such as unhealthy lifestyle habits, can be changed. Other risk factors, such as age, family history and genetics, race and ethnicity, and sex, cannot be changed. A healthy lifestyle can lower your risk for developing high blood pressure.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Eat a Healthy Diet
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight
  • Be Physically Active
  • Stop Smoking
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption
  • Get Enough Sleep

Find out more about controlling blood pressure.


Community Resources & Success Stories

For most women, high pressure can be controlled with lifestyle changes. Resources are available to help you develop a heart plan to lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure. Your health care provider and local health department may have resources that you can use; here are a few more to help you on your journey to a healthier heart.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Healthy Living by Age

Heart Disease Risk Factors

Getting Active

Healthy Eating

Million Hearts

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

American Heart Association


Sharing What Works: Personal Stories

Your personal story can help others take action to improve their heart health. As you work to meet your heart health goals, share what you are doing to motivate others. Your story may save lives.