Recent guidelines do not establish gender-specific criteria for defining hypertension. In a cross-sectional study of medical students in La Plata, Argentina, we assessed the impact of equal blood pressure (BP) limits in the sexes, according to the U.S. Joint National Committee (JNC-V) 1993 and a memorandum from a WHO/ISH meeting. A total of 450 medical students, 219 men and 231 women, mean age 20.8 years, had BP measured three times on two different occasions. The percentages defined as hypertensives (mean SBP ≥140 mm Hg and/or mean DBP 190 mm Hg at two occasions) were 11% in men and 1.3% in women. SBP corresponding to the 95th percentile was 144 mm Hg in men and 131 mm Hg in women, and DBP were 91 mm Hg and 83 mm Hg, respectively. Mean SBP was 11.7 mm Hg, and DBP was 3.8 mm Hg higher in men than in women. Adjusting for overweight changed the results modestly, and adjustment for age- or health-related habits had minimal influence. Follow-up studies, including early detectors of organ damage, may be of value to evaluate the medical consequences of equal versus gender-specific hypertension limits.
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