Women often have to deal with things like hot flashes and heart palpitations while going through the stages of menopause. However, it might not just be “the change” that’s causing those symptoms. According to experts, we need to pay closer attention to blood pressure, too.
A recent article published in the European Heart Journal claims roughly 50 percent of women will develop high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) before the age of 60. Like menopause, high blood pressure can also cause a flushed feeling that’s similar to hot flashes — but doctors tend to overlook it instead of taking the heart health issue into consideration.
“High blood pressure is called hypertension in men, but in women it is often mistakenly labelled as ‘stress’ or ‘menopausal symptoms,'” study author Angela Maas, MD, PhD, explains. “We know that blood pressure is treated less well in women compared to men, putting them at risk for atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and stroke — which could have been avoided.”
Maas adds that noticing early clues for high blood pressure throughout a woman’s life, even before menopause, can help sidestep any cardiovascular risks in the future. Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, early natural (non-surgical) menopause before 40, and autoimmune inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (which are more common in women than men) are all factors that could increase the likelihood of hypertension during menopause.
“If blood pressure is not addressed when women are in their 40s or 50s, they will have problems in their 70s when hypertension is more difficult to treat,” Maas says. “Women can help their doctors prevent heart problems and make earlier diagnoses by mentioning issues like complicated pregnancies and early menopause, and monitoring their own blood pressure.”
Maas explains that high blood pressure during menopause is also often linked to developing dementia later on in life, so the earlier it’s managed the better. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise are the best ways to keep the numbers down, but you might want to invest in a wearable monitor, too. (Click here for some of our favorite stylish blood pressure watches.)
Bottom line: Just because symptoms like hot flashes and palpitations are common during menopause, it could actually be your blood pressure causing the issue — so don’t overlook it.