High blood pressure, hot flushes and palpitations in women, which could increase their risk of heart diseases, are often mistaken and dismissed as symptoms of menopause, says a study published in the European Heart journal.
The research shows that about 50 per cent of women develop high blood pressure before the age of sixty, but the symptoms they exhibit are often mistaken and attributed to menopause.
"High blood pressure is called hypertension in men, but in women, it is often mistakenly labelled as 'stress' or 'menopausal symptoms'. We know that blood pressure is treated less well in women compared to men, putting them at risk for atrial fibrillation, heart failure and stroke which could have been avoided," said Professor Angela Maas, the first author of the study and the director of the Women's Cardiac Health Programme, Netherlands.
Women's symptoms are to be taken seriously, and women patients must be treated differently from men to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Women whose natural menopause begins before the age of forty have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular and auto-inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc.
"High blood pressure during pregnancy is a warning sign that hypertension may develop when a woman enters menopause, and it is associated with dementia many decades later," added professor Maas.
Neglect in treating high blood pressure in women while they are in their 40s or 50s will have negative consequences when they reach 70s because hypertension is harder to treat in older patients.
The researchers suggest preventive measures like a healthy lifestyle and diet, menopausal hormone therapy, etc. to maintain a healthy heart during menopause, post-pregnancy complications, and other situations like breast cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
It also advises transgender women (people assigned male at birth) to reduce modifiable lifestyle risks as they need hormone therapy for the rest of their lives which increases their chance of developing blood clots.
The researchers suggest a genuine collaboration between cardiologists, gynaecologists and endocrinologists so that the best possible care and treatment is provided to the female patients to achieve early diagnosis and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Women are also advised to mention complicated pregnancies, early menopause, etc. to their doctors while consultation and keep monitoring their blood pressure to make an earlier diagnosis.