Menopause and high blood pressure (hypertension) are related as blood pressure generally increases after menopause (postmenopause).
Whether this is down to the hormonal changes that take place in perimenopause or an increase in body mass index (BMI) associated with menopausal women remains an area of debate. However, there are facts to support both theories.
High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other conditions. At the age of 50+ women catch up with men in the heart disease department.
In reality cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, whereas, most women assume this to be breast cancer. Therefore, high blood pressure is not to be taken lightly and women need to understand that menopause and high blood pressure is a critical time for cardiovascular health in women.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If the pressure is too high and stays high, overtime, it can have a damaging impact on the body.
High Blood Pressure Reading
- Normal 120/80
- Pre Hypertension 120-139/80-89
- Stage 1 high blood pressure 140-159/90-99
- Stage 2 high blood pressure 160 and above/100 and above
Compare your blood pressure levels with normal/optimum values.
Source: American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org
- A consistent reading of 140/90 and above may require treatment
- Blood pressure can climb slowly or can suddenly rise without any symptoms.
As you approach menopause you need to have your blood pressure checked at least every 6 months by your Healthcare Professional.
Causes of High Blood Pressure in Women
- Family history of high blood pressure.
- History of high blood pressure in pregnancy are at an increased risk to develop hypertension at the menopause age.
- Being overweight, obesity.
- Too much alcohol.
- Lack of physical exercise.
- Chronic kidney disease.
- Adrenal and thyroid diseases.
- Cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
(High blood pressure is a strong predictor for the development of type 2 diabetes)
Menopause and High Blood Pressure – Hormones
As estrogen decreases, the walls of your blood vessels may become less flexible, causing your blood pressure to rise, which is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. With the decline in estrogen levels, risk factors for heart disease becomes more apparent, especially high blood pressure.
Some types of hormone therapy may also contribute to increases in blood pressure.
Signs of High Blood Pressure
You must see your Healthcare Professional immediately if you are experiencing:-
- Headaches that are more often or more severe than usual.
- Vision problems.
- Unusual fatigue.
- Any sort of chest pain.
- Lightheadedness or fainting.
- Periods of confusion.
- Blood in your urine.
Whilst these are obvious signs of a problem, high blood pressure can also have no symptoms at all.
Signs of Mild to Moderate High Blood Pressure
- Non specific chest pain.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Hot flushes.
Maintain a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Reduce the amount of processed foods and salt in your diet. Salt increases blood pressure in most people with high blood pressure and in about 25% of people with normal blood pressure.
A low potassium intake has the same impact on your blood pressure as a high salt intake – the balance between the two minerals is important. Potassium can be found in fruit, vegetables, legumes (broccoli, spinach, white potatoes, bananas).
Taking a high quality supplement may help to avoid missing out on any essential nutrients.
Maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain is a high risk factor for high blood pressure. With less body mass to nourish, your heart won’t have to pump as hard and the pressure on your arteries decreases.
Exercise on most days of the week. Exercise helps to lower blood pressure because it makes the heart stronger, consequently your heart can pump more blood with less effort.
Limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Moderate your consumption – one drink a day for a woman of any age is considered to be moderate.
Hormone imbalances can also be addressed through natural menopause relief products.
Maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
Pruthi, S. MD. High Blood Pressure (hypertension) Is there a connection between menopause and high blood pressure. (June 21, 2013) Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/menopause-and-high-blood-pressure/faq-20058406
The National Institute of Health. Signs of the Menopausal Transition. www.nih.gov
Morag Thow, Keri Graham, Choi Lee, “The Healthy Heart Book”, May 2013