Menopause is the biological process of the end of the menstrual cycle of a woman. It occurs due to a natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s. Menopause leads to hormonal and biological changes in the body including weight gain and hot flashes. Alongside these, it also raises the risk of heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) and high blood pressure.
Menopause, a heart disease risk
The level of estrogen, the hormone which plays a crucial role in overall health, declines following menopause. Low estrogen levels impact the flow of blood and the heart needs to pump harder to ensure proper blood circulation, leading to increased blood pressure. This in turn strains the heart.
Increasing age and declining metabolism mostly leads to women becoming less active. This coupled with weight gain contributes to high blood pressure leading to heart diseases.
Apart from this, menopausal women are sensitive to salt and excessive sodium in the body can lead to water retention, thereby creating pressure on the blood vessels.
Warning signs of high blood pressure in menopausal women
Following symptoms should not be ignored in menopausal women as they may be an indication of high blood pressure:
- Palpitations in the heart
- Family history of heart disease
- Shortness of breath
- Heaviness in the chest
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Diabetic or high cholesterol levels
- Obstructive sleep apnea (sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts)
Naresh Trehan, Chairman & Managing Director, Medanta, The Medicity Gurugram, HaryanaPreventive measures
- Monitor weight fluctuations and blood pressure
- Consume healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Increase consumption of dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese to ensure adequate intake of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins D and K
- Reduce intake of processed food and salt
- Get 150 minutes of exercise in a week
- Do not smoke, and avoid alcohol and caffeine
Keep stress in check
While it is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep blood pressure levels in control, one should undergo regular health check-ups for prevention. Women with high blood pressure should create a personalised plan with their doctor to include diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes to keep blood pressure and heart disease in check.
The author is Chairman & Managing Director, Medanta, The Medicity Gurugram, Haryana