Is There a Link Between Menopause and High Blood Pressure?
Yes, one of the symptoms of menopause can be high blood pressure. In my wife's family, for instance, the women have low-normal blood pressure levels. That is, however, until menopause. Then their blood pressure starts creeping up, with some of them becoming hypertensive. There are a couple of factors at play here.
Hormonal Changes Affect Blood Pressure
First of all, as estrogen levels fall off in menopause, blood pressure levels can rise from hormonal influence as well as from the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, headache, insomnia, etc., caused by the overstimulation of the autonomic nervous system. Also, I've seen synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) cause hypertension in some women.
Symptoms of Menopause Can Cause Weight Gain
In addition, women can have trouble with weight gain when menopausal hormone swings kick in—and weight gain is a very important factor in managing blood pressure. Women must be mindful of maintaining an active lifestyle during and after menopause, even though they may not have had trouble with weight gain before.
You may want to read Heart Sense for Women (LifeLine Press, 2000). There's an entire chapter (the toughest one to write in the book!) on HRT. Should you decide to try HRT due to your blood pressure concerns, be sure that you find a physician who can go the natural, bio-identical hormone route with you. If it doesn't suit you, or it doesn't help after a while, you can always work with your doctor to discontinue it.