Do Hot Flashes Lead to High Blood Pressure?


hot flashes

 Women who experience hot flashes have been found to have higher blood pressures than those who don’t.  Systolic blood pressures (top number) were found to be significantly higher in women who have hot flashes regardless of menopausal status.  The higher blood pressures were consistent even when differences in weight, ethnicity and age were evaluated.  This study was conducted on 154 women 18 to 65 years old with no history of heart disease and normal blood pressures (published in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society March 2007).

 Hot flashes are believed to be caused by an increase in the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (this is the “fight or flight” system which leads to an increase in heart rate and constricts blood vessels).  This logically can also then lead to an increase in blood pressure.

 Women experiencing hot flashes should make sure they closely monitor their blood pressure.  Remember a normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80.

For more information about menopause, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease see our new book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” at


High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Increases Heart Risk


prenant woman 

     Many women develop high blood pressure during pregnancy but after delivery their blood pressure normalizes.  Previous research has shown that these women are at a higher risk to develop high blood pressure when they get older (especially after menopause).  A new research study conducted by Chielan researchers published in the journal Hypertension (April 2009) reports that women who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy are also at a greater risk to develop significant coronary artery disease.  This study followed 217 women who underwent a heart catheterization approximately 30 years after their last pregnancy.  Women who had experienced high blood pressure during at least one of their pregnancies were more likely to have significant narrowings in their coronary arteries than women who had normal blood pressures during pregnancy.  Also women with high blood pressure during one of their pregnancies developed coronary artery disease about 3 years earlier.

     So any woman who experiences high blood pressure during pregnancy, even if their blood pressure normalizes after delivery should be closely monitored for future heart disease.  All heart disease risk factors should be evaluated in any woman who develops high blood pressure during pregnancy.

 “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” was published this year and discusses how women can identify their risk factors and control their likelihood of developing future heart disease.  For more info please visit

Early Menopause Increases Stroke Risk


Premenopausal women have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. We believe this is due to protective effects of estrogen. After menopause a woman’s estrogen levels decrease and this can lead to an increase in blood pressure, increase in LDL (“lousy” or bad) cholesterol levels, decrease in HDL (“healthy” or good) cholesterol levels, and weight gain (especially around the belly area). These are all risk factors for heart attacks and ischemic strokes.

At the International Stroke Conference last week results were presented that suggested that women who go through menopause at an earlier age may be at an increased risk for “premature” strokes. Strokes are more likely to occur in postmenopausal women – independent of age.  Data from the Framingham Heart Study collected on over 1,400 women found that experiencing early menopause significantly increased a woman’s risk for stroke. Women who reached menopause before age 42 had a doubling in the risk of ischemic stroke compared to all other women.

Do you know your risk factors for heart attack and ischemic stroke? Are you at risk?

Menopause is a non-modifiable risk factor – every woman will experience menopause and the loss of the protective effects of estrogen. Many women go through menopause around the same age as their mothers – so ask your mom if she remembers when she started to experience menopausal symptoms or at what age she had a hysterectomy (especially if her ovaries were removed – this would be considered “surgical” menopause).

It is important to know all of your risk factors and to try and optimize modifiable risk factors as early as possible. “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” is a new book we recently published which discussed heart disease/stroke risk factors and what women can do to decrease their risk. For more information please visit

Questionable Safety of Bio-Identical Hormones


The Women’s Health Initiative results made headlines in 2002 –  hormone replacement therapy was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and hearts attacks in postmenopausal women.  Ever since then there has been an ongoing debate about whether hormone replacement theray should be used to control menopausal symptoms.  Many women are fearful and many healthcare providers reluctant to prescribe hormone therapy.

Makers of bio-identical hormones claim their products are identical to hormones produced by our bodies, and are safer and more effective than conventional hormone replacement therapy.  I have recently seen several guests on TV talk shows recommending bio-identical hormones. What women need to keep in mind is that none of the claims/benefits of bio-identical hormones are supported by reliable scientific data.

The FDA has not approved any bio-identical hormone and does not regulate the manufacturing of these drugs.  At this point in time the FDA states that with the existing knowledge available bio-identical hormones probably have the same risks as other hormone replacement medications. Women need to be informed and discuss all options with their physician – hormone replacement therapy is only recommended to control severe menopausal symptoms (lowest dose for the shortest duration of time).

We are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in heart disease prevention. We want to help women live a longer healthier life. Brand New Book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” just released Feb 2009. For more information please visit                       

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Official Start of Heart Month


It’s February 1st the Official Starting Day of Heart Month.

Heart disease remains the #1 killer of men and women in this country.

The Main Risk Factors for heart disease include:

·        Increased age (55 or older for women, 45 or older for men) (Post menopause in women – loss of estrogen dramtically increases risk)

·        A Family History of Heart Disease

·        High Blood Pressure

·        High Total Cholesterol, or High LDL (Bad) Cholesterol, or Low HDL (Good) Cholesterol, or High Triglycerides

·        Diabetes/Metabolic Syndrome

·        Overweight/Obesity (especially increased belly fat)

·        Smoking

·        Physical Inactivity

·        Emotional Stress

Other Conditions that can Increase Your Risk:

·        Depression

·        Thyroid Disease

·        Inflammatory Disease (like arthritis)

·        Gum Disease

·        Sleep Apnea

·        Panic Anxiety Attacks

·        Erectile Dysfunction in Men

·        Premature Menopause in Women can lead to Premature Heart Disease

The more risk factors you have the greater your risk for developing heart disease.  It is imperative that all men and women find out their individual risk factors and try to modify their lifestyle to decrease their risk for heart disease.  If your healthcare provider does not mention them during your yearly physical evaluation – you should initiate the discussion.  Why wait – if you do not already know which risk factors you have – it’s National Heart Month so find out.

Know Your Numbers – what is your blood pressure (the goal blood pressure for men and women is less than 120/80), what are your Cholesterol Numbers (important to know ALL the numbers not just the total cholesterol), what is your fasting blood sugar (current recommendations fasting blood sugar should be less than 100).  Try to be physically active every day.  Maintain an appropriate weight (Men’s waist circumference should be less than 40 inches, Women’s waist circumference should be less than 35 inches).

Learn the Signs of a Heart Attack.


  • Chest sensations (discomfort, pain, squeezing-feeling, heaviness, pressure) 
  • Arm, jaw, neck, shoulder blade discomfort or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea/Indigestion
  • Unusual fatigue/weakness
  • Hot flush/Cold sweat
  • Dizziness


Do you know CPR? If not why not look into taking a CPR course – you could possibly save someone’s life someday.


Your Heart Beats About 100,000 times per day….


Learn How to Check your Heart Rate:

Count your pulse for 10 seconds and then multiply it by 6

The Normal Adult Heart Rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute.


If you already know your risk factors for heart disease and are following a healthy lifestyle – Good For You! We applaude you! How about your spouse, significant other, parents or kids??


During Heart Month we are asking you think about your Heart!!!

Look for local programs in your area – there are many activities planned for Heart Month throughout the country.  Why not learn something new about your heart this month.


If you are looking for more information about heart health visit:

American Heart Association




We are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in heart disease prevention. We want to help you live a longer healthier life. Brand new book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” due out Feb 2009.

For more information please visit

Follow us on Twitter at

Visit our blog Healthy Hearts with Heartstrong




Menopause Transition Affects Heart Disease Progression


It’s a well known fact that when women go through menopause their risk for heart disease increases.  The loss of estrogen postmenopause increases a woman’s risk for high blood pressure, increases LDL (“Lousy” or bad) cholesterol levels, decreases HDL (“Healthy” or good) cholesterol levels, and increases the risk for weight gain (especially around the abdominal area).  This clustering of heart disease risk factors makes the incidence of heart attacks more common in post menopausal women.

A new study called the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study (LAAS) headed by Dr. C. Noel Baiery Merz suggests that if women transition through menopause quickly (within three years go from premenopausal to postmenopausal) their risk for developing premature heart disease is even greater.  This was a small observational study but these results further support the need for a comprehensive heart disease risk factor evaluation in younger premenopausal women.  We know that 80% of heart attacks are preventable by optimizing risk factors.  In order to prevent the development of heart disease women need to learn their individual risk factors and try to optimize their numbers when they are young – before they start to experience menopausal symptoms.