Hot flashes are typically experienced as a feeling of intense heat with sweating and rapid heartbeat, and typically last from two to thirty minutes on each occasion. The event may be repeated a few times each week or up to a dozen times a day, with the frequency reducing over time. Excessive flushing can lead to the skin problem rosacea.
The study from Weill Cornell Medical College was published in the March/April issue of Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.
The researchers used portable monitors to record the blood pressure of 154 New York City women, aged 18 to 65 (mean age of 46). The women had no previous cardiovascular disease and either mild hypertension or normal blood pressure. Fifty-one women reported experiencing hot flashes. These women were found to have an age-adjusted mean systolic awake blood pressure of 141 and a mean systolic sleep blood pressure of 129 -- compared to 132 and 119, respectively, for women not reporting hot flashes. The results were highly significant. For people whose lives are not complete without a little "p," the values were: p=0.004 and 0.007. The group differences for systolic blood pressure remained statistically significant after controlling for conventional hypertension risk factors, race/ethnicity, age and body mass index (BMI).
This is important research: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, with the latter being responsible for half of all deaths among American women 50 and older.
We need to understand more about the mechanism linking blood pressure and hot flashes, but this research already suggests that women with flashes are at especially high risk. So if you know someone who ishaving them, make sure that they are having their blood pressure monitored on a regular basis.