Menopause May Increase Salt-related Hypertension

NOVEMBER 01, 2005

The results of a new study suggest that hormonal changes following menopause may trigger salt-sensitive hypertension in women who were unaffected by salt before menopause. In addition, the researchers found that, in a group of younger women who experienced a hysterectomy with ovary removal, the number of patients with salt sensitivity doubled within 4 months of their surgeries.

The study findings were presented at the American Heart Association's annual high blood pressure (BP) conference. Researchers studied 40 women with an average age of 47 years with normal BP and no history of diabetes. All of these women underwent hysterectomies with ovary removal, which induced menopause. Prior to their surgeries, only 9 women were salt-sensitive; 4 months after surgery, that number rose to 21.

According to the researchers, some women naturally develop salt sensitivity after menopause and run the risk of developing high BP. Even people with normal BP who are salt-sensitive have a greater risk of developing high BP, and possibly cardiovascular disease, they said.

The study raises important questions, the answers to which could affect how hypertension is treated in postmenopausal women, including the effectiveness of diuretics and the importance of monitoring of salt intake, the researchers said.