Why low blood pressure can cause dizziness and fainting during the menopause


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


17 July 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to talk about dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting. Now, these are really common symptoms in the menopause, most of us will experience them at some time. They can be caused by lots of different things, but today I'm looking at them in regard to low blood pressure.

Low blood pressure

Now, low blood pressure, we don't really hear about it that much. We hear all about the negative aspects of high blood pressure, but low blood pressure can also appear during the menopause and can cause a whole raft of symptoms including dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea. So I thought I would look into low blood pressure and tell you how it can happen, what sorts of things could contribute to it, and what you can do for yourself.

What is low bood pressure?

Now, low blood pressure is where the blood vessels tend to get a little bit weak, they tend to get over-relaxed, so the heart finds it really hard to pump the blood round the body efficiently. And when this doesn't happen, then oxygen and iron and other nutrients end up not getting to all the tissues where they need to go. And that can cause a whole range of other symptoms as well.

What are the symptoms of low bood pressure?

Lightheadedness, Dizziness, Giddy

So let's have a look at the main symptoms of low blood pressure. So we've got the fainting, we've got the lightheadedness, we've got the dizziness. You can also feel a bit giddy. And one thing where this often appears is if you get up too quickly you just…oh, you can just feel a little bit woozy. And also if you bend down quickly to pick something up and you stand up straight away, that can make you feel a little bit giddy as well.

We know too that very often women will experience a hot flush and then get the giddiness. And again, if you think about it, if you are having a hot flush your blood vessels are dilating really quickly, they're opening up, they're giving everything a quick rush of blood. But in that instance where the blood vessels are opening up that can then cause a drop in the blood pressure and can give you the dizziness, etc.

Feeling weak

The other symptoms could be - of low blood pressure, is feeling generally weak and fatigue. You just don't feel right, you don't have a lot of energy.

Sensitive to hot and cold

You can become very sensitive to hot and cold. And again, this is so common during the menopause that so many women say to me, you know, the minute they walk into a shop and they feel the heat, suddenly they get a hot flush and they can start to feel dizzy. And I know, for me, cold is an issue, I can get cold really, really quickly. And I've had problems with low blood pressure myself sometimes.

Low endurance

There can be low endurance, you just find that you get puffed out. You think, "Oh, I'll go for a walk," or, "I'll do some housework" or you're busy at work and you suddenly think, "Wow, I'm tired already and I've only just started." So that can be a big factor.

Sleep problems

You can also find it really difficult getting off to sleep. And we're now getting to the point where you can see that a lot of general menopause symptoms can also look like low blood pressure symptoms as well. So getting off to sleep is a big issue. Having problems staying asleep is another one.

And very interestingly, another thing that comes up with low blood pressure, you see, you can get night terrors. So if you find that you're getting a lot of, you know, those really realistic dreams or you're starting to get nightmares then that could be a little bit of a clue.

Headaches and sadness

We can look at just headaches, migraines as well, is another thing. Low mood, not so much anxiety but more to do with low mood, sort of depression, sadness, and hopelessness can be another symptom of low blood pressure as well. So you can see already how these things are all piling up and looking very much like the menopause itself.

What else can contribute to low blood pressure?

Diet

Other things can contribute to low blood pressure as well. So the main one is dieting. And, you know, let's face it, during the menopause, weight issues can be a really big thing for us and we do tend to diet quite a bit during the menopause.

Low protein

Low protein is another problem. And again, when we're in the menopause with all the cellular changes going on, our need for protein goes quite high. So it's really important to make sure that you're getting really good quality protein in your diet on a regular basis.

Adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue can be another contributing factor to low blood pressure. And we know that by the time a lot of women get to the menopause they've had a stressful time, the menopause itself puts added pressure on our adrenals and everything can be compounded by the physical and emotional and mental changes that are going on at this particular time.

Low blood sugar levels

We know that low blood sugar levels can be a factor too. And this in itself is so common during the menopause. Our blood sugar regulation gets very sensitive to sudden changes in blood sugar control.

Low thyroid

We know too that low thyroid can be a problem here. And low thyroid or just getting to that point where you're borderline low thyroid, is a very common symptom in the menopause.

Dehydration

Dehydration, and let's face it, you know, if you're getting hot flushes and night sweats, then there is a big possibility that you're going to be dehydrated as well, and that can be another factor too.

What can you do about it?

Get it checked by your doctor

So, what can you do about all this? Really important thing is if you are getting dizzy regularly, if you're getting that lightheadedness, if you're fainting, and if you think that you've got a combination of any of the symptoms that I've just mentioned, then it's a good idea to get your blood pressure checked, either with your doctor or go to your local pharmacy and they can get that checked out for you. So most important thing, first of all, check with the doctor.

Don't make quick movements

The other things that you can look at are making sure that you don't bend down and stand up too quickly. If you've been sitting down for a long time, especially if you've been doing a lot of desk work, then prepare yourself to stand up. And especially first thing in the morning, our blood pressure can get really quite low during the night and if you suddenly sit up and jump out of bed that can give you the dizziness. So, once you wake up, again, prepare yourself, do some gentle stretching, some deep breathing, and then slowly sit up and you should find you should be okay for that.

Avoid hot baths

Avoid hot baths. These can be a really big trigger for that sort of sudden rush to the head and dizziness. So soaking in a hot bath in the menopause is not really good for you anyway, purely because the heat can affect the veins, it can affect your varicose veins, and it would just dry your skin. So this kind of baths are really avoided. And definitely, if you think you've got low blood pressure don't go into a sauna because that could be...you know, might be a little bit dangerous to actually do that.

Exercise

Look at regular exercise. Now, this is really important for several reasons. One, it gets the circulation going, and secondly, when you're actually moving, the calf muscles will help to pump the blood back up to the heart and that can be a really great thing to stop you getting that sudden head rush.

So things like walking, cycling, and swimming can be really good. If you don't do a lot of exercise just now, then start off really slowly, don't suddenly go mad. But even doing 10 minutes walking 2 or 3 times a day can be really beneficial for this.

Stable blood sugar levels

Keep your blood sugar level stable. And this is an important one in the menopause for all sorts of different reasons, especially if you're getting hot flushes and night sweats. So eat little and often but remember not to be eating sweet things, lots of high sugar foods and caffeine can be another trigger for the dizziness so, you know, really keep that very low if you can.

Iron

You can also look at a gentle iron. Now, we know that low iron can also be a factor in the low blood pressure, and if you have had really heavy periods on the run up to the menopause or you're getting heavy periods, even if you're only getting periods maybe once every two or three months. Any one single heavy period can make you a little bit low in iron so you could ask your doctor to get your iron levels checked.

Also, you could try taking a really nice gentle iron supplement or some kind of iron tonic and that can give you a real little boost as well.

Crataegus/Hawthorn

You could look at the herb Crataegus or Hawthorn, the other name is Hawthorn. This is a lovely remedy for blood pressure. It's a balancer, so it doesn't matter whether you've got high blood pressure or low blood pressure, you can quite happily take this herb. But it's very slow, it can take about three to six months to start showing benefits. So it's not one that you would take for that kind of immediate relief.

Ginkgo biloba

You could also look at the herb, Ginkgo biloba, if you find you're getting that sensitivity to cold or heat. If you find that you're getting really cold fingers and cold toes, then the herb Gingko biloba can be a lovely one. And that normally starts to show benefit after about four to six weeks.

Carrot juice

And the other thing that I have been told is very good for low blood pressure is to drink carrot juice. So that might be something that's worth trying.

Water

And last but not least, remember the water. We don't want to get dehydrated because that's a big thing too.
 
So I hope that you found this one helpful. And I will look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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