Can you have high blood pressure and it affect how you feel in Menopause? OR.....can you be in peri-menopause or menopause and develop high blood pressure? Good questions!!
Let's start by talking about what high blood pressure is.
High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is when the force of the blood that pumps through the arteries is too high for too long! It’s like turning a water hose on high and laying it on the ground in one place. Eventually the ground will shift and change to accommodate the force of the water. In the heart, the chambers will respond to the force by becoming hypertrophied or thickened. This then reduces the efficiency of the heart muscle itself and causes everything below that to shift and change to accommodate the force of the pumping action! When pressure stays high for too long it causes the vessels to stretch and become lax and then the blood isn’t able to move through the vessels with the proper force for protection from stroke and heart attack. To add to the risk particles of cholesterol can get piled up and then break loose and cause a heart attack or stroke.
There are 2 stages that occur when the heart pumps blood:
Systole is where the force of the blood is pushed to all the arteries and veins
Diastole is where the heart muscle relaxes between beats
It all happens very fast!!! It’s very important that it is efficient like a well-oiled machine! The process of systole and diastole provides oxygen to all our vital organs. If there is weakness due to changes in the muscle then the vital organs suffer. Kidney disease is a very common sequelae of high blood pressure.
How does this work with Menopause or Peri-Menopause?
Unfortunately, high blood pressure is very common during this stage of life. It will typically increase after you have reached menopause. It is thought to be shifting, changing hormones that result in higher blood pressure. It is also thought that during menopause, weight gain occurs and with weight gain the risk of high blood pressure increases. It’s really a catch 22!!! It is also thought that we become much more sensitive to salt during menopause. Salt is known to raise blood pressure.
Well now what?
1). Maintain a healthy weight (stay tuned for a course on weight loss)
2). Eat heart-healthy foods, such as whole grains ( unless you have a gluten intolerance), fruits and vegetables (eat a LOT of bright colored raw veggies)