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Don't blame everything on menopause

October 2, 2008 |  2:00 pm

Cuff1 Women tend to find their health going downhill after menopause. A lot of the problems are blamed on the loss of hormones that occurs during menopause. But sometimes the things that happen around that time of life aren't really linked to hormones.

High blood pressure may be one of those things. A study published in the October issue of Journal of Hypertension found that increases in blood pressure and heart disease that occur in women after menopause probably have to do with weight gain rather than changes in hormone function. The study, by researchers in the Czech Republic, looked at blood pressure measurements in about 900 women ages 45 to 54. The women were classified according to whether they were pre-menopausal, menopausal or post-menopausal. After adjusting for the effects of age, there was no relationship between blood pressure and menopausal status. But blood pressure was strongly related to a woman's body mass index.

In another study in the same journal, this one by Italian researchers, age seemed to be the strongest factor for why blood pressure rises in women in mid- to later life, not menopause or BMI.

There's something positive in this, I suppose. You can't do much about aging or menopause but maintaining a healthy weight is achievable. For more information on menopause, see this Web page from the North American Menopause Society.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times