A woman is diagnosed with menopause when she has been without menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. On average, women are between the ages of 45 and 55 when they reach menopause. Menopausal hormonal fluctuations can cause significant health changes for women. A common question women ask their doctors is, “Can menopause cause high blood pressure?”
The short answer is yes, but the underlying reasons why there is a link between menopause and high blood pressure vary. High blood pressure is very common; approximately 1 out of 3 American adults have it. Because it can cause heart disease and a loss of bone density in menopausal women, it is important for all women to regularly monitor their blood pressure.
Reasons Why Menopause Cause High Blood Pressure
(1) Weight gain
A drop in estrogen and progesterone causes an increase in a woman’s appetite so weight gain is a common occurrence in menopause. The additional pounds show up in the abdominal area. Thea average weight gain of women between the ages of 45 and 55 is between 12 and 15 pounds.
(2) Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)
For some women, HRT is necessary for dealing with the physical and psychological effects of menopause. While the evidence is conflicting and every woman has a unique reaction to HRT, HRT may cause a menopausal woman’s blood pressure to increase.
(3) Bad lifestyle habits catch up to menopausal women.
Smoking and drinking both can lead to high blood pressure at any age, but it appears to be especially true during the menopausal phase of a woman’s life. Even if she has spent decades with bad lifestyle habits with no apparent side effects, they can begin to cause issues for her during the menopausal years.
(4) Good lifestyle habits tend to decrease during menopause.
For a whole host of reasons, menopausal women may be ignoring the good lifestyle habits that can help them deal with the effects of menopause and minimize their chances of having high blood pressure. Perhaps women are caregivers to aging parents, caregivers to children, full-time employees with stressful jobs, or lack the energy, desire, and enthusiasm to eat right and maintain a healthy exercise regimen. Whatever the reasons may be, a healthy diet and exercise routine are of utmost importance during these years. Ensure that fish, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables are staples in the diet instead of sugary, processed, or fast food alternatives. Engage in a variety of exercises including walking, cardio, weight training, or anything else that appeals for at an average of 30 minutes each day. Consider yoga has an avenue for improving flexibility and managing stress.
While menopause is a normal phase in a woman’s life, every woman has her own unique experience with different symptoms and results. It is important to regularly visit and have active communication with a doctor during these years to manage symptoms and to ensure that the blood pressure, weight, and bone density remain healthy during this phase of life.