Hypertension symptoms often mistaken for menopause in older women

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Doctors need to do better at deciphering between menopausal symptoms and cardiac symptoms in women.Sean Locke/Stocksy


(Lisa Rapaport/ Everyday Health) — New research shows that many middle-aged women may be living with undiagnosed hypertension because symptoms of the condition — including chest pain, exhaustion, headaches, heart palpitations, and sleep disturbances — are mistakenly attributed to menopause.

Missed hypertension cases are part of a broader problem of overlooked cardiovascular disease among middle-aged women, according to a paper by a group of cardiologists, gynecologists, and endocrinologists published in January 2021 in the European Heart Journal. Too often, these women have undiagnosed hypertension and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease because their doctors focus on signs common in men that aren’t as typical for women, the paper argues.

“The main reason for this confusion is that the pattern of aging of the coronary arteries is different among women and men, and this starts around menopause,” says Angela Maas, MD, PhD, lead author of the paper and a professor in women’s cardiac health at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands. (…)

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