Did You Know Menopause Can Cause Hypertension?
If you’re a woman, chances are you do a monthly breast exam. But when is the last time you checked your blood pressure? It used to be thought that hypertension, and other heart concerns, were “men’s issues?” But did you know that women—and especially women in menopause—are at even greater risk for high blood pressure than a man?
- The most important thing you can do is test your high blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure means you have a systolic blood pressure of 135 mmHg or greater, and/or a diastolic pressure of 85 mmHg or greater. A normal blood pressure is considered 120 over 80, or lower.
- Avoid taking daily painkillers. A report from the Harvard School of Medicine’s ongoing Nurses Health Study concluded that women are at increased risk for high blood pressure if they take daily doses of non-aspirin painkillers such as extra-strength acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Add blood pressure reducing foods to your diet. To keep your blood pressure under control and your heart healthy, you want to increase your intake of oatmeal and complex carbohydrates; low-glycemic vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, kale and especially celery, legumes; fruits; cold-water fish (especially fatty ones); organic eggs; olive oil; and nuts, seeds, and flaxseed. My top three include sardines, oatmeal, and seaweeds such as Wakame.
- Eat garlic. An Australian review of 11 studies in which hypertensive patients were randomly given a garlic supplement or placebo found that garlic can lower blood pressure as effectively as some drugs. On average, the mega-analysis turned up blood pressure reductions of 8.4 systolic points, and 7.3 diastolic points. The higher a patient’s blood pressure was at the beginning, the more it was lowered by taking garlic.
- Get moving. Regular exercise is a sure way to help prevent and reduce high blood pressure. Physical activity also lowers the levels of stress hormones circulating in the blood, which is important since stress tends to constrict arteries and drive up blood pressure. You want to strive to exercise three to four times a week.
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Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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