With more and more pregnant women struggling with high blood pressure, researchers from the Mayo Clinic explored the long-term effects of hypertension in a new study.
The experts found that women who experience high blood pressure during pregnancy could be at an increased risk of experiencing more severe symptoms during menopause.
“We already know that women with high blood pressure during pregnancy or those who experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats have a higher risk of developing heart disease,” said researcher Dr. Stephanie Faubion. “Our research discovered that women who experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy were much more likely to experience bothersome menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.”
Uncovering the link between the symptoms
To better understand the link between hypertension during pregnancy and more severe symptoms during menopause, the researchers had over 2,600 women between the ages of 40 and 65 complete surveys that asked questions about a wide range of symptoms. The participants reported on their health and related symptoms during pregnancy, as well as what their experiences were like with menopause.
The researchers learned that women who experienced more severe menopause symptoms -- like extreme hot flashes or night sweats -- were the same women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy. Despite such a strong link between the two conditions, it’s still unclear to the researchers why this trend has emerged.
Reducing the risk for heart disease
The researchers explained that the biggest concern for those with more severe menopause symptoms is developing other health issues, like cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have highlighted how intense hot flashes can be an indicator of heart health concerns.
The researchers hope that these findings inspire medical professionals to closely monitor women showing any combination of these symptoms, as they could be a sign of a more serious health condition.
“We know medical providers have historically done a lousy job identifying and following women with histories of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy, despite knowing that they have a higher heart disease risk,” Dr. Faubion said. “This study is another reminder that these women are different. It is important that they not only receive education with regard to what they may experience during menopause, but also that they undergo routine screenings and counseling on how they can reduce their risk for heart disease.”