High BP Now, Heavier Menopause Later

Hypertensive pregnancy diseases linked with more severe menopause symptoms

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) High blood pressure during pregnancy can be harmful for both the mother and baby's health. But could it also affect the mother many years later, when she's sending that baby off to college?

Women who had high blood pressure while pregnant were at a higher risk of having more serious night sweats and hot flashes during menopause, a new study found.

Since hypertensive pregnancy diseases and menopause symptoms are linked with cardiovascular disease, the results demonstrate the need to monitor middle-aged women who have the conditions, according to researchers.

"Sudden swelling in your face and hands? See a doctor."

Jose Drost, MD, from the Department of Cardiology at Isala Klinieken in the Netherlands, and colleagues studied 853 women who averaged about 56 years of age and visited a cardiology clinic in Kampen, the Netherlands, between 2003 and 2010.

The participants shared their history of hypertensive pregnancy diseases and menopausal symptoms.

Hypertensive pregnancy diseases are high blood pressure disorders that occur in 10 to 20 percent of pregnant women.

These can include chronic hypertension, hypertension during gestation, preeclampsia and eclampsia, a life threatening condition that can lead to seizures or coma during a woman's pregnancy.

Researchers noted patients' demographic characteristics, blood tests and physical examinations.

The odds that women would have increased menopausal symptoms were 62 percent higher in women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy diseases than women without the history, researchers found.

Among women who had hypertensive pregnancies, 83 percent had hot flashes and night sweats compared to 75 percent of women who did not have hypertensive pregnancies.

In addition, women with hypertensive pregnancy diseases were more than twice as likely to have their menopause symptoms last longer than a year compared to women without the condition.

The night sweats and hot flashes were also more severe in women who had hypertensive pregnancies, according to researchers.

"In our 'Kampen women cardiology clinic' cohort, women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy diseases report vasomotor menopausal symptoms during the menopausal transition significantly more often than women with normotensive pregnancies," researchers wrote in their report.

Future research should look at cardiovascular risk in women with both a history of hypertensive diseases during pregnancy and menopausal symptoms later in life, according to researchers.

"Preventive measures among women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy diseases are currently undergoing debate, but expert opinion tends to advise monitoring of cardiovascular risk factors in women after hypertensive pregnancy diseases," researchers wrote.

It's not clear whether the link between menopausal symptoms and hypertensive diseases applies to all middle-aged women since the women in the study were referred to a cardiologist for heart symptoms, according to researchers.

Researchers also noted that the results might be skewed since they based their results on participants who reported their own history with the conditions versus looking at medical records.

No conflicts of interest were found. Financial disclosures were not reported. The study was published online April 1 in the journal Menopause.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 14, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013