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What to know about high blood pressure in men

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Symptoms in menRisk factorsLifestyle measuresMedicationsGetting helpSummary
High blood pressure in men can lead to heart disease, kidney problems, and erectile dysfunction. You can help manage it by eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise.
Medically reviewed by Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C
Written by Suan Pineda
Updated on January 24, 2024

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition that often shows up without symptoms. Our blood pressure varies throughout the day depending on what we’re doing. It may increase if we experience high levels of stress or regularly eat an unbalanced diet, which can lead to the buildup of cholesterol against our artery walls.

Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure than women and may also experience different symptoms. While research is still unclear as to why there are differences, it’s thought to be due to sex hormones and chromosomal differences.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article uses the terms “women” and “men” when discussing people assigned female or male at birth to reflect language that appears in source materials. 

While gender is solely about how you identify yourself, independent of your physical body, you may need to consider how your personal circumstances will affect diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.

What does high blood pressure look like for men? 

Male using a blood pressure monitor to depict high blood pressure in men.
Photography by AsiaVision/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 50% of men have high blood pressure compared with 44% of women. Your blood pressure levels are considered high if you have a reading of 120/80 mm Hg or above.

Hypertension is often called the silent killer because it’s a condition that causes few symptoms. This changes when the condition worsens. High blood pressure in men can lead to symptoms like low libido and erectile dysfunction. 

Other symptoms of high blood pressure include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • headaches
  • confusion
  • changes in vision
  • nosebleeds

However, these symptoms often occur when levels are severe. Often, high blood pressure is symptomless, and people tend to find out they have it when they visit a healthcare professional.

However, having no symptoms doesn’t mean high blood pressure does not cause damage. The undetected condition can lead to health problems like kidney disease and heart disease.

In a 2019 study of more than 1,200 older men with high blood pressure, about 60% had erectile dysfunction. A 2023 study found a direct causal link between hypertension and erectile dysfunction.

Risk factors of high blood pressure in men 

It’s not completely understood why men are more prone to developing high blood pressure than women. Older research from 2016 suggests that it is due to differences in sex hormones and chromosomes. A 2019 study indicates it may be due to differences between sexes in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), which regulates blood volume and the tone and resistance of our blood vessels.

Besides being male, other risk factors of high blood pressure include:

  • having obesity
  • having diabetes
  • not doing enough physical activity
  • eating an unbalanced diet
  • having high stress levels
  • smoking
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • genetics and family history
  • age, the risk of high blood pressure increases with age
  • ethnicity, black and Asian adults have a significantly higher chance of developing hypertension than Caucasians

What lifestyle modifications can help? 

Some lifestyle measures can help you lower your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy range. These include:

  • eating a balanced diet that focuses on vegetables and fruits
  • reducing how much salt and trans fat you eat
  • increasing your physical activity and ensuring you get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week
  • reducing and managing stress levels through methods such as yoga and meditation
  • lowering your alcohol consumption if you drink
  • quitting smoking if you smoke
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Medication options

Medications to treat hypertension aim to keep your blood pressure in a regular range. Treatment for high blood pressure involves a combination of medication and lifestyle measures.

Some medications that help treat hypertension include: 

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When to speak with a doctor

High blood pressure doesn’t usually cause any symptoms until it’s very elevated. Because of this, undetected high blood pressure can lead to health problems like kidney and heart disease, as well as erectile dysfunction in males.

If you experience difficulty reaching an erection, maintaining it, and ejaculating, consider speaking with a healthcare professional. They can check your blood pressure levels and determine if it is the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction.

It’s important to check your levels regularly if you have other health conditions like obesity and diabetes, as they can cause an increase in your blood pressure.

Summary

High blood pressure is more prevalent in men than in women. The exact reason isn’t clear, but research points to hormone and chromosomal differences.

High blood pressure usually doesn’t cause any direct symptoms but can be the underlying cause of other conditions like heart disease, kidney problems, and erectile dysfunction.

Treatment of high blood pressure involves a combination of medication and lifestyle measures, such as a balanced diet, exercise, and stress management.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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