8 Ways to Control High Blood Pressure During Menopause

Last updated 12.29.2023 | by Sabrina Johnson | 10 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


High blood pressure affects one in three Americans between their 40s and 60s. If we were to analyze the occurrence of blood pressure as per gender, studies have shown that men are more susceptible to it than women. However, when women undergo menopause, there is likely to be a rise in their blood pressure levels at a rate that will even surpass that of men.

It has been observed that around 30-50% of the female population develop hypertension before 60. If a woman had hypertension during pregnancy, or if she had a family history of the same, then she would be at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure as she neared menopause.

Before we get into the details about the link between menopause and high blood pressure, here are some facts about the pressure readings.

When an individual’s blood pressure reads 120/80 mmHg, it is marked as normal. If the upper readings are between 120 and 129 and the lower readings are within 80, then the pressure is considered elevated. When the upper readings measure from 130-139, and the lower readings are between 80 and 89, it is classified as stage 1 hypertension. On the other hand, stage 2 hypertension occurs when the pressure is 140/90 and higher. If the pressure shoots up to 180/100, it’s an emergency.

High blood pressure is never good and can trigger many health complications. You can understand how uncomfortable it is if you have had chronic hypertension. So, is the hormones responsible for high blood pressure in menopause? If you had high blood pressure all your life, will it worsen in menopause? Or, could you develop high blood pressure when you’ve hit the menopausal phase? Read this article to acquaint yourself with different facts about the connection between high blood pressure and menopause. I have also elaborated on how to control high blood pressure during menopause. Let’s get started.

Is There Any Relationship Between Menopause and High Blood Pressure?

Women’s problems in perimenopause and menopause are due to the changing hormone levels. So, how are menopause and high blood pressure related?

Many experts think that the fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone are responsible for the spike in blood pressure levels. Estrogen is known to have vasodilating properties, helping maintain blood flow and keep cholesterol levels in check. So, when there is a reduction in the level of this hormone, it is evident that the functions it performs get disrupted.

Menopause also results in weight gain in most women, with low estrogen levels being one of the main reasons. Age-related factors and lifestyle changes are also responsible for menopausal weight gain. Weight gain from menopause leads to fat accumulation in the abdominal area. Increased weight gain means a high BMI (Body Mass Index).

Many health professionals believe an increased BMI during the menopause transition and menopause phase could also increase blood pressure levels.

Post-menopausal women are more susceptible to high blood pressure than their premenopausal counterparts. In a study conducted in 2015 on 2037, participants between the age group 40 and 56 years- showed that the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels altered as per the menopausal stage.

The systolic and diastolic levels were higher in the later perimenopause stage than earlier.

Another study conducted in 2020 linked blood pressure and premature menopause. It highlighted women who went through premature menopause should go through regular blood pressure screenings.

8 Different Ways to Control Blood Pressure During Menopause

8 Different Ways to Control Blood Pressure During Menopause

If you are nearing menopause or already in menopause, these are some things you should do to control blood pressure. Eating healthy and maintaining a proper lifestyle are prerequisites.

1. Manage Your Weight

As mentioned already, once in the menopause transition and menopause phase, you are susceptible to an increased weight gain due to the fluctuating hormones, alongside other factors. It is no unknown fact that obesity is a trigger in developing hypertension.

If you already have high levels of blood pressure, then your increased weight may aggravate your condition. So managing your weight is of utmost importance. You can do that by adding sufficient physical activity to your daily routine.

Next comes a healthy diet, including nutritious fruits and veggies, and eliminating unhealthy foods is needed. Omit or lessen sweetened beverages and sugary treats as much as possible. We will discuss more about eating healthy and exercising well in menopause for a healthy weight in the following sections.

2. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy is essential for managing weight and maintaining blood pressure. As mentioned, most women are prone to weight gain in menopause. So you need to be extra careful about your diet. Include more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Restrict your meat intake, and try substituting red meat with healthier options like seafood and fish. You must also replace stick margarine and butter with vegetable and olive oil. Added sugars contribute immensely to the calories and lack nutritional value. Several beverages, like sweetened tea and coffee, flavored water, juices, and soft drinks, are high in sugar. Other sugary treats include candies, doughnuts, ice cream, cookies, pies, cakes, etc.

Binge-eating is a common thing most women do, especially in menopause when their stress levels are on the rise. I, too, would resort to the same to give myself temporary relief. But I realized that I was doing more harm to myself than good. I felt fitter and healthier when I consciously gave up the fries and fatty foods.

3. Limit Salt Intake

Studies have shown that menopausal women have an increased sensitivity to salt, meaning a greater amount of sodium is in their bloodstream. So, when in menopause, restricting salt intake is of utmost importance. Otherwise, it could elevate your blood pressure levels. According to the World Health Organization, adults shouldn’t consume over 2000 mg of sodium daily, equal to less than a teaspoon. In menopause, you must take care of this even more.

There are certain foods with a high amount of salt, like sauces, chips, cheese, mayonnaise, pickled foods, etc. So, make a conscious effort to minimize the intake of these foods that could aggravate your blood pressure.

4. Follow a Proper Exercise Regime

Following a proper exercise regime will help boost your heart health. It will also keep your blood pressure under control. When planning a physical workout, add aerobic and strength training exercises to it. A fitness expert told me that walking at least 3-5 times each week for 20-40 minutes at a stretch will help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. He even said one must do this for at least three months to feel the effect. So, around 150-200 minutes of brisk walking weekly, alongside vigorous aerobic exercises like jogging (75 minutes each week), swimming, and dancing, will help. Yoga and relaxation exercises also effectively manage blood pressure and stress-related disorders.

5. Quit Smoking

Smoking during menopause is a no-no, as it intensifies some symptoms, like difficulty sleeping and hot flashes. Moreover, smoking is also said to play a significant role in elevating blood pressure levels temporarily. It has been observed when one smokes a cigarette, their pulse and blood pressure rise instantly. These parameters take about twenty minutes to return to normal since you smoked the last cigarette. However, the permanent effect of cigarettes on blood pressure isn’t known. Yet repeated spikes in the pressure levels aren’t good either.

6. Restrict Alcohol Intake

Like smoking, another factor that isn’t healthy during menopause, especially when consumed in excessive amounts, is alcohol. Alcohol consumption in menopause is said to trigger vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats). It is even said to harm sleep that goes for a toss in the menopause transition and menopause phase.

Increased intake of alcohol also causes the blood pressure to shoot abnormally. Moreover, if you indulge in binge drinking, which means over four drinks in two hours (for women), that could result in a long-term rise in your blood pressure. So, if you have decided to do away with alcohol completely, that’s good news. But, if you still wish to continue drinking, do not exceed the limit beyond a drink a day.

A friend couldn’t restrict herself from four drinks a day, which she was compelled to cut down on after her hot flashes worsened and her pressure levels went through a steady rise. She went without alcohol for a few months and then started having it once or twice a week, that too, not more than a drink in a go.

7. Manage Stress

With hot flashes, sleep problems, and night sweats bothering you most of the time, keeping your anxiety levels in control is challenging during menopause. However, managing your stress is of immense importance, or it might take a toll on your health and even lead to a spike in blood pressure levels.

There are no precise estimations regarding how much blood pressure your stress levels may rise. However, per a study conducted in 2022, it was seen that the participants experienced an increase in systolic pressure by 15.2 mmHg. Their diastolic pressure shot up by 8.5 mmHg. High stress levels lead to a greater increase in blood pressure levels than moderate stress.

Practicing deep breathing and opting for relaxation techniques will help to keep your stress in control to a greater extent. I would often practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique in menopause to manage sleep and stress. Would you want to know the way to do it? Well, it’s easy. Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for another seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds. Initially, do not do it for more than four cycles. Once you have mastered it, you could increase the count to eight cycles.

8. Lessen Caffeine Intake

Caffeine isn’t a good option for menopause. It triggers several symptoms, like hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and night sweats. Caffeine also impacts blood pressure, causing it to rise dramatically. There have been speculations regarding the reasons behind the impact of caffeine on blood pressure.

Some experts feel that caffeine blocks the hormone responsible for widening the arteries. A few also believe that caffeine increases the adrenaline the adrenal glands release, resulting in a rise in blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are advised against having caffeine. So, in menopause, when you are susceptible to an increase in blood pressure, it is always advisable to limit the caffeine intake. I, too, made a deliberate effort to lessen my coffee intake from four to just a single cup a day. The reason was that high coffee intake affected my sleep and hot flashes immensely.

FAQs

Which blood pressure medication is apt for menopausal women?

There are different medications used to treat high blood pressure in menopausal women. One of them is clonidine. It helps to lower pressure by lessening certain chemical levels in the blood. However, before availing of this medicine, always contact the doctor.

How to manage high blood pressure in menopause?

If you have high blood pressure in the menopausal phase, you must talk to the doctor immediately. He will prescribe medications as per your requirements. Also, you should go for regular monitoring once or twice a week. You should also take the initiative of making lifestyle changes.

Conclusion

Managing your menopausal symptoms may seem challenging, though not impossible. You could bring things under control by making lifestyle changes – a healthy diet and proper workout being the prerequisites.

For those who already have hypertension, regular blood pressure check-ups are a must. However, if you are healthy without high blood pressure or any history of heart disease, you should still get screened for your heart rate. Blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., at least once a year, especially when you are above 40.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.