What PMS Could Mean for Future Health

Premenstrual syndrome could signal future high blood pressure risk


PMS means days of emotional distress and physical pain, but new evidence suggests it could also have effects on women years later.

Women who have clinically significant premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may have a raised risk of future high blood pressure, a new study found.

Lead study author Dr. Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, noted in a press release that 8 to 15 percent of women may face clinically significant PMS. PMS is a syndrome in menstruating women marked by mood swings, depression and tiredness, among many other symptoms.

And in this study of over 3,500 women, the 1,257 women with PMS were about 40 percent more likely than the 2,463 without PMS to develop high blood pressure between 1991 and 2005.

But for women who experience this type of PMS, their future blood pressure — and risk for related problems like heart disease — may not be entirely out of their control. Dr. Bertone-Johnson and team found that women who had a lot of the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin in their diets didn't appear to have a raised risk of future high blood pressure.

In past research, Dr. Bertone-Johnson and colleagues found that these B vitamins may lower the risk of PMS. In the current study, these researchers wrote that their findings were "consistent with these findings, and suggest that improving B vitamin status in women with PMS may both reduce menstrual symptom severity and lower hypertension risk."

Foods high in these B vitamins include green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, chicken and dairy products.

Dr. Bertone-Johnson said women who have PMS should be screened for blood pressure problems. Exercise and a healthy diet may help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

This study was published Nov. 24 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research. Conflict of interest disclosures were not available at the time of publication.