It seems hot flashes are not suffered equally–just one of the many aspects to life, particularly life at this age, that makes you want to shake your fist at the cruel world. Research is giving us more clues as to what causes hot flashes in menopause, and one new discovery shows that women who had high blood pressure issues during pregnancy are more likely to feel the heat now.
This news comes from the Mayo Clinic, where researchers analyzed the medical records of 2,684 women ages 40 to 65 who were seen for specialty menopause or sexual health consultations between May 2015 and September 2019. These women self-reported their menopause symptoms and also completed questionnaires that documented whether they experienced high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.
“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,” says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., the study’s lead author and the director for the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health.
The Heart Connection
There’s actually a bit more bad news for women who had preeclampsia or gestational hypertension during pregnancy. Separate research has found that they are double the risk for heart disease.
“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,” says Dr. Faubion. “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.”
The upshot? We know you might have wanted to block out those awful days of bed rest and worry during your pregnancy, but it’s important to let your doctor know your history, even if they don’t ask. And way too many won’t ask, so be bold and take matters into your own hands.