Women have a lot on their plates, and sometimes important self-care can take a back seat to work, family and other obligations. In fact, nearly 50% of adult women have high blood pressure, and nearly three-quarters of those with high blood pressure don’t have it under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can significantly increase a woman’s risk for a stroke, but a few important steps can help reduce that risk and give women (and their loved ones) one less thing to worry about.

We know that 1 in 5 women will have a stroke in their lifetime, and that stroke kills more women than it does men,” said Dr. Ameya Kulkarni, American Heart Association subject matter expert and interventional cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente. “Women have carried so much burden over the past year and, it has impacted their health. As we return to some form of normal life, we want women to take time to not only know their risk for high blood pressure and stroke, but to feel empowered to put their health first.”

Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president of Kaiser Permanente, chairs the Greater Washington Region’s Go Red for Women campaign – highlighting the shared of goal of Kaiser Permanente and the American Heart Association to help everyone in the communities they serve to live more active, heart-healthy lifestyles

High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke, and while it is not directly linked to gender, women have unique health considerations that may put them at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure such as a history of birth control use, pregnancy or menopause.

Doctors and researchers have found a link between birth control pills and an increase in blood pressure among some women. They say that it is more likely to occur in women who are already overweight, have kidney disease or have a family history of high blood pressure. A combination of birth control pills and smoking can be very dangerous to women and is not recommended.

A woman’s health during pregnancy can be a preview of her health in the future. Women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy are at an increased risk for developing high blood pressure and having a stroke later in life.

The physical changes associated with menopause also increase a woman’s risk of developing high blood pressure.

Of note, women of Black and Hispanic ethnicity may develophigh blood pressure at a younger age and have a higher averageblood pressure than other racial groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fortunately, 80% of strokes may be prevented and lowering high blood pressures reduces stroke risk. Women can measure their blood pressure at home regularly and let their doctors know if it’s normally above 120/80.

In addition, lifestyle adjustments such as getting enough exercise,eating healthfully, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking can go a long way to reduce women’s disease risk fromhigh blood pressure.

To continue to call attention to issues around women’s cardiovascular health the American Heart Association Greater Washington Region is calling on all women to rally around the Go Red For Women movement designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally.

Go Red for Women is a year-round platform created to address the disparity between genders with regards to awareness, treatment and prevention of heart disease. The movement has grown into one of the most iconic and revolutionary campaigns in the world of health.

On June 17, join us for a free digital celebration and hear from special guests that will inspire the greater Washington region to come together as a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

“Kaiser Permanente is honored to support the inaugural Go Red for Women campaign in the Greater Washington Region, as this mission is an extension of the important work being done at Kaiser Permanente to eliminate health disparities and improve health for everyone in our community,” said Dr. Kulkarni.

The Go Red for Women movement is nationally sponsored by CVS Health and locally sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Sheehy Auto Stores and Laird Lott and Linda Gooden.

To register for the Go Red for Women digital celebration and for more information and tips about women’s health and stroke prevention at all stages of life, visit DCGoRed.Heart.org.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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