Menopause can bring about a range of challenging symptoms for women, including hot flashes, weight gain, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Typically occurring between the ages of 45 to 55, menopause marks a decline in reproductive hormones, triggering these symptoms. Alongside these changes, women face an increased risk of heart disease, with high blood pressure exacerbating the concern.
The link between HRT and Symptom Relief
Many women turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to alleviate their menopausal symptoms. However, the link between HRT and menopausal symptom relief remains unclear, and it is typically prescribed for a limited duration to mitigate discomfort.
A recent study conducted by Canadian researchers at the University of Calgary and published in the journal Hypertension suggests that women using hormone patches or creams experience lower blood pressure compared to those taking estrogen-only pills. Estrogen can help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, but when used alone, it raises the risk of uterine cancer, necessitating the addition of progesterone for women with a uterus, as stated by Nebraska Medicine.
The study analyzed data from 112,240 women who were using estrogen-only hormone therapy medication between 2008 and 2019. Researchers investigated the incidence of high blood pressure diagnoses among these women based on their chosen mode of medication.
According to the findings, women taking estrogen-only pills had a 14% higher risk of developing high blood pressure compared to those using skin patches or creams. Oral estrogen carried a 19% higher risk compared to vaginal creams or suppositories. Dr. Sofia Ahmed, a professor at the University of Calgary and senior study author, emphasized that this is the largest study focusing on women exclusively using estrogen without progestin as hormone replacement therapy.
Dr. Stephanie Faubion, who was not involved in the study, acknowledged that oral estrogen is rarely used anymore due to its impact on blood clot proteins, triglycerides, and slight blood pressure increases. She emphasized that for symptomatic women under 60 and within 10 years of menopause, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy still outweigh the risks, as recommended by the North American Menopause Society.
Tips to Control Blood Pressure during Symptoms
The Mayo Clinic provides some tips to control blood pressure during menopausal symptoms:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Follow a balanced diet that includes all food groups.
- Avoid processed and high-sodium foods.
- Engage in daily exercise.
- Manage stress levels.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Quit smoking if applicable.