High blood pressure is among the many health risks for women with PCOS. High blood pressure is known as a “silent killer” because it strikes without any warning signs. By the time you realize that you have high blood pressure, most of the damage is already done. If you have PCOS, you need to be extra careful to prevent high blood pressure. Let’s find out more about PCOS and high blood pressure.
PCOS And High Blood Pressure: What’s The Connection?
Here are some reasons that explain the connection between PCOS and high blood pressure.
Obesity is the biggest reason behind high blood pressure in PCOS patients. More than 80% of women with PCOS in the US are overweight or obese. Fats stored in the body release a hormone called leptin. This hormone is directly involved in increasing blood pressure. So the more deposits of fat a person has, more is the activity of leptin in increasing blood pressure.
Another reason for high blood pressure in women with PCOS is insulin resistance. In fact, high blood pressure and insulin resistance have a cause-effect relationship. It means that either can be the cause of the other. High levels of insulin increase the levels of sodium and calcium in the blood, making it thicker and sluggish. Thick and viscous blood exerts more pressure on the arterial walls, increasing blood pressure.
Excess Male Hormones
Excess male hormone levels are associated with an increase in the thickness of the walls of the carotid artery. The carotid artery is a major blood vessel arising from the heart. This artery supplies oxygen-rich blood to the head and neck regions of the body. If the walls of the carotid artery become thick, it ultimately leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Activity in the Nervous System
PCOS patients have a greater activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which is directly linked with high blood pressure. High levels of male hormones, obesity, and insulin resistance also stimulate the autonomic nervous system, which is also key in regulating blood pressure.
Tips To Reduce The Risk Of High Blood Pressure
As we have seen, there’s a strong link between PCOS and high blood pressure. Addressing individual symptoms of PCOS, such as hypertension and excess male hormones, is the most effective way of reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
Diet and lifestyle changes, such as exercise, are always considered as the first line of therapy for PCOS. They can reduce obesity, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce excess male hormones. Here are some dietary considerations to follow to minimize the risk of PCOS and high blood pressure:
- Monitor your salt intake: According to the American Heart Association, an average adult eats way more sodium than what is recommended. Prepared meals, frozen and canned foods contain a lot of sodium. Always check nutrition labels for salt content before buying any processed foods.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes: These foods are rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium; all of these minerals counter the effects of high sodium and bring down your blood pressure. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet proves that including fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet can help in reducing blood pressure. The DASH diet recommends 4 to 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables and 4 to 5 servings per week of nuts, seeds, and legumes.
- Eat good fats: Fatty fish, avocados, nuts and olive oil have high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have a blood-pressure lowering effect.
PCOS And High Blood Pressure: Parting Words
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage blood vessels. It can also affect the key organs of the body, such as the heart, the eyes, the limbs, the kidneys, etc. If you have PCOS, monitor your blood pressure regularly and make the necessary changes to your diet and your lifestyle to keep it under check.