I didn’t realize that endometriosis can contribute to high blood pressure issues. But after receiving a high blood pressure diagnosis, I now know that it is. In addition, I’ve learned that risk factors and complications increase your high blood pressure risk. And there are things you can do to prevent and treat high blood pressure should it become an issue for you.
How Endometriosis Causes High Blood Pressure
Having Chronic Inflammation
There are three reasons endometriosis increases high blood pressure risk. The first is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to chronic health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Since endometriosis is an inflammatory condition, it too can increase the risk of heart disease, specifically high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. But why is endometriosis so inflammatory, and how does this link to high blood pressure?
Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to that found on the uterus is found elsewhere in the body. This tissue implants on different organs and structures and causes irritation and inflammation. Consequently, this triggers an inflammatory process that creates pro-inflammatory proteins. These proteins are released into the bloodstream. And as inflammation increases, so do the proteins.
Studies have shown that elevated pro-inflammatory markers increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Additionally, these inflammatory proteins contribute to the build-up of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins) within the arteries. Thus, increasing the risk of high cholesterol.
So, not only does ongoing chronic inflammation increase your risk of high blood pressure, but it also increases the risk of other chronic diseases like high cholesterol.
Excessive Use of Medication for Pain-Relief
The second reason endometriosis increases high blood pressure risk is the excessive use of pain medication. Endometriosis is a painful condition. It causes severe pelvic cramping, low back pain, ovulation pain, and painful periods. And this pain can occur daily. Hence, many use anti-inflammatory medication known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) as a pain management tool. You may know them as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
However, when used regularly, these medications have some severe side effects. One issue is they cause fluid retention and impair kidney function. This side effect contributes to elevated blood pressure levels. Additionally, consuming high doses of these medications increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Specific Treatments Used to Treat Endometriosis
The third reason endometriosis increases high blood pressure risk is recommended treatments. Currently, there is no known cure for endometriosis. And many of the remedies provided aim to manage the disease and decrease pain. These treatments include hormonal medications and surgical intervention. Examples of hormonal medications include the combination birth control pill and Gonadotroin-releasing hormones (GnRH) known as Lupron and Orlissa. And surgical treatment includes ovary removal surgery and hysterectomy.
The combination birth control pill is prescribed to help decrease heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods, and ovulation pain. And in many cases, they are beneficial. However, they do increase your risk of high blood pressure. This is due to the synthetic estrogen used in the combination pill.
As for GnRH treatments, the goal is to treat and reduce painful endometriosis symptoms. However, they are more invasive and come with more side effects. Since these treatments shut down the ovaries and stop estrogen from being produced. Thus creating temporary menopause. However, there are risks and side effects that come with this. The reduction of estrogen can impact the elasticity of the heart and blood vessels. Additionally, the good cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins) decreases while the bad cholesterol increases. This side effect increases the risk of high blood pressure and contributes to heart disease.
Furthermore, surgical procedures such as having one or both ovaries removed or a hysterectomy will impact estrogen levels. Thus creating a similar impact as the GnRH treatment. And making a scenario that increases one’s risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
How You Can Decrease Your Risk
Lower Your Inflammation
There are two best practices to decrease your risk of high blood pressure. And they are also beneficial for treating high blood pressure. The first is to reduce chronic inflammation. The simplest way to do this is to change your nutritional habits.
Fundamental nutritional changes you can make include more colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet. Make sure you consume foods rich in whole grains and omega 3 fatty acids. If you have food triggers or intolerances, remove them and find suitable alternatives. Examples of beneficial diets to transition to include the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
In addition to nutrition, you want to make sure you’re following a fitness regimen that’s appropriate for you. These tiny nutritional and lifestyle changes can decrease the inflammatory cycle in your body.
Consider Natural Pain Management Options
Lastly, you can reduce your risk of high blood pressure by finding alternative pain management methods. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking medications such as Aleve or Advil to manage your pain. However, you should not abuse these medications because they have negative consequences for your health.
Consider infusing homeopathic techniques into your pain management regimen. Doing so can help decrease the dosage you need for the medications you’re taking. Some alternative therapies to explore are massage therapy, cupping, acupuncture, chiropractic care, CBD therapy, heat wraps, and a tens unit.
Do What’s Best For You
Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition. And it does increase your risk of other conditions such as high blood pressure. And while it’s frustrating, it’s essential to do all you can to protect your health. So, check and monitor your blood pressure regularly, so you’re never caught by surprise. Early detection can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes needed to get your blood pressure under control.
References & Related Reading
- Hypertension | Volume 70, Number 1 | Association Between Endometriosis, Hypercholesterolemia or Hypertension
- American Heart Association | Women with Endometriosis May Have A Higher Risk of Heart Disease
- WebMD | Medications That Cause High Blood Pressure
- Very Well Health | Birth Control Pills and High Blood Pressure
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Thank you. This helped me. I am really having a hard time with endo as I get older. This gave me some hope.
Me too! I lost my ovary a year ago and have noticed an increase in my blood pressure and have begun to enter into perimenopause. While my pain has improved and my periods aren’t debilitating and painful it still feels like endo is finding new ways to attack my body.