By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A third of us suffer from, or will suffer from, hypertension. High blood pressure is a serious condition if left untreated. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available. But about 35 million people with high blood pressure, roughly about one half, are women, and according to the American Heart Association, they have certain characteristics that can be concerning.

Compared with men, women with high blood pressure are more likely to be obese and have high cholesterol levels. They are also less likely than men to receive medication such as aspirin, blood pressure-lowing drugs, or cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Most people don’t know that heart disease is the number one killer of women as well. An estimated 480,000 women die of cardiovascular disease every single year. The critical fact is that high blood pressure is a major contributor to problems. It needs to be aggressively treated.