Want to know how you’re going to fare during menopause? Your pregnancy might hold some clues. In fact, the results of a study published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society, indicate that women who have hypertensive diseases during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and high blood pressure, may be at higher risk of hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.
Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of mortality in women worldwide. Hypertensive diseases during pregnancy and vasomotor menopausal symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) have been identified as risk factors for cardiovascular disease—but little, if any, research has focused on a connection between hypertensive diseases during pregnancy and subsequent hot flashes during menopause.
To examine the relationship between hypertensive diseases in pregnancy and vasomotor symptoms, researchers analyzed data from 853 women who visited a cardiology clinic in Kampen, the Netherlands. Among these, 274 women had a history of hypertensive diseases during pregnancy. The women visited the outpatient cardiology clinic between 2003 and 2010 and the visit included a questionnaire regarding the history of hypertensive disease during pregnancy, demographic characteristics, and VMS; physical examination; and blood sampling.
The results indicated that 83 percent of the women with a history of hypertensive diseases during pregnancy experienced vasomotor symptoms, compared with 75 percent of those without a history of hypertensive diseases during pregnancy. They deemed this a “modest but significant difference.” In adjusted models, vasomotor symptoms were more often present and more frequently persisted for longer than one year among women with a history of hypertensive diseases during pregnancy than among women without. What’s more, women who had hypertensive diseases during pregnancy also tended to have more severe and longer lasting hot flashes and night sweats.
The researchers concluded that women with a history of hypertensive diseases during pregnancy report menopausal hot flashes and night sweats significantly more often than their counterparts. Because hypertensive diseases during pregnancy and vasomotor symptoms are both considered risk factors for cardiovascular disease, women who experience these conditions should be closely monitored for cardiac symptoms.
Drost JT, van der Schouw YT, Herber-GastGCM, et al. More vasomotor symptoms in menopause among women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy diseases compared with women with normotensive pregnancies. Menopause. Published early online April 1, 2013; DOI: 10.1097/GME.0b013e3182886093