We discuss the link between the two…

The menopause is a natural process that can affect anyone who has periods. It develops when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels and usually affects women between the ages 45 and 55, although it can happen earlier. There’s plenty of speculation around the menopause and how it influences other aspects of our health and there’s still plenty of research that needs to be done.

In this guide, we’re putting the spotlight on blood pressure, delving into its link with menopause, whilst also providing guidance on how you can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Plus, why this is particularly important for those on their menopause journey.

What’s the link between menopause & blood pressure?

In menopause, your periods stop due to lower levels of hormones like oestrogen. These changes in hormone levels can increase the risk of developing health problems. For example, it’s thought that women who experience lower levels of oestrogen due to the menopause may be at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.

This rise in blood pressure, along with potential higher cholesterol levels, are thought to contribute to an increased risk of heart disease during the menopause (you can learn more about this in our article that explores the link between heart health and menopause).

What is a healthy blood pressure?

To determine what a healthy blood pressure is, it helps to understand how blood pressure is measured. When you measure your blood pressure, whether that be at home, your local pharmacy or your GP clinic, you’ll receive your reading in two numbers: a top number and a bottom number which mean:

• The top number (systolic blood pressure) – the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats, pushing blood around your body

• The bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) – the lowest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart rests between beats

Your blood pressure is always measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). For instance, if the first number of your reading is 100 and the second number is 60, your blood pressure would often be referred to as ‘100 over 60’. It would be written down like 100/60mmHg.

If you have a blood pressure reading and want to know whether it fits into the category of a healthy blood pressure, the following readings can be referred to as a general guide:

• 140/90mmHg or over
– you may have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension)

• 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg – you may have pre-high blood pressure (not high blood pressure but it’s a little higher than it should be and could develop onto high blood pressure)

• 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg – your blood pressure is considered as ideal/normal

• 90/60mmHg or lower – you may have low blood pressure

If you need help understanding your blood pressure readings, speak to your pharmacist or GP.

What causes your blood pressure to rise?

Although it can be difficult to detect the exact cause of a rise in blood pressure, it’s thought that there are a few factors that may increase your risk of high blood pressure, as well as some known causes, including:

• Unhealthy lifestyle choices – such as not getting enough daily exercise, having too much salt in your diet and not enough fruit and vegetables, drinking too much alcohol or coffee and smoking

• Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnoea and lupus to name a few

• Stress

• Certain medications, such as the contraceptive pill, steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen

Why is healthy blood pressure important during & after the menopause?

Healthy blood pressure is important for all as high blood pressure can increase your risk of serious health problems, like heart attacks. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is particularly important during and after menopause due to the change in hormones that can happen, more specifically the drop in oestrogen that happens during the menopause.

Oestrogen plays a vital role in your body, such as reducing inflammation, helping to keep your cholesterol levels and blood pressure down. It encourages blood vessels to relax and widen, resulting in blood flowing through more easily. Although a drop in oestrogen during the menopause isn’t directly linked to a rise in blood pressure, it has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks so it’s important to keep blood pressure under control.

The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to help maintain healthy blood pressure, such as:

• Eating a healthy, balanced diet. Take a look at our healthy eating tips for some inspiration

• Engaging in regular, daily exercise

• Limiting your alcohol intake

• Cutting down on caffeine

• Losing some weight if you’re overweight

• Quitting smoking. The NHS Stop Smoking Service can offer support and guidance for your quit smoking journey

Can you have hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) if you have high blood pressure?

HRT is a widely known treatment that’s used to help improve menopause symptoms. During the menopause, two important female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone fall, leading to symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings. HRT aims to replace female hormone levels and help provide relief from menopause symptoms. Read on for more information regarding what is HRT?

To answer the question, most people with high blood pressure can still take HRT safely under the guidance of their healthcare professional as long as their blood pressure levels can be controlled. You may find your GP will want to regularly monitor your blood pressure if you do take HRT, but this is a normal procedure and helps them adjust your medicines if necessary.

You can speak to your GP about getting HRT treatment. Alternatively, you can also use an online service like the Boots Online Doctor Menopause and HRT Treatment service*. After filling out a quick online consultation (which should take no longer than 10 minutes), a member of our healthcare team will review your details and prescribe treatment if appropriate. If you have any follow-up questions, don’t worry, we’ll give you a call or send a message to answer your queries. If you’re prescribed treatment, we’ll provide instructions on how to take your HRT treatment alongside advice on how to manage your menopause symptoms.

How to monitor your blood pressure

If you’re worried about your blood pressure at any given time, you should try and take a blood pressure test. There are several ways you can check your blood pressure, whether that be at home using an at-home blood pressure monitor or at your local GP clinic. Some workplaces and pharmacies may also offer blood pressure testing. 

Here at Boots, we aim to make blood pressure checks accessible to those who need it, which is why the NHS Blood Pressure Check Service** is available in over 1,000 of our stores across England.

Upon visiting one of our Boots stores that offer this NHS service, you can have a chat with one of our pharmacy team members to discuss your eligibility. If eligible, you’ll take part in an initial consultation, guided by one of our healthcare professionals in a private room where your blood pressure measurements will be taken. Then your results will be discussed with you, and you’ll be able to receive advice or ask any questions you may have regarding your blood pressure. You may be offered a blood pressure monitor to take home. This will help you understand your blood pressure measurements in more detail, throughout the day and night, over a 24-hour period.

We’re here to open the conversation around menopause, giving you the support and advice you need throughout each stage of your journey. Services like My Menopause Centre†, a specialist clinic with doctors who have experience in treating menopause signs and symptoms, are on hand to give you a personalised treatment plan to help you take control of your signs and symptoms online, from the comfort of your own home. Wherever you are in the UK, we’re here for you.

* Treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.

**Participating stores only. Eligibility criteria apply. Subject to availability. Available in England only.

†Eligibility criteria and charges apply.

§The Mtick symbol has been developed with Gen M to signpost menopause-friendly products or services that relieve, ease or support one or more of the 48 signs or symptoms of menopause.