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.
In menopause, which occurs between 45 and 55, your body undergoes significant physical changes, all because of the fluctuating hormone levels. So, if you have a problem with high blood pressure, will it aggravate during menopause? Or, if you haven’t had any pressure problems before, is there a possibility to develop the same in the perimenopause or menopause stage?
Let us check out why you may have high blood pressure in menopause. We will also find out the ways to control high blood pressure.
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
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. Following a healthy lifestyle will help you manage your weight successfully.
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. You must avoid all of these to control your blood pressure and weight.
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. 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.
7. Manage Stress
Menopause is a stressful time. With hot flashes, sleep problems, and night sweats bothering you most of the time, keeping your anxiety levels in control is challenging. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Menopause means many symptoms, from hot flashes to sleep problems, concentration issues to vaginal dryness, and so on. If you never had blood pressure before, you could develop that also due to the changing hormone levels. That is why it is essential to maintain a proper lifestyle, which is also the key to good health.