We thought there was nothing worse than the hell that is PMS cramps. Sure, there’s a silver lining – even the best of us use our worst PMS symptoms as another excuse to stay home and have a Netflix marathon/chocolate binge, but it turns out those period pains might be more detrimental to our health than we thought.

A new study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that women who experience intense PMS symptoms have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Researchers recorded PMS symptoms from nearly 4,000 women over a span of several years. Of that number, about 2,500 reported mild period symptoms, while 1,257 experienced moderate-to-severe symptoms. Severe symptoms include cramps, insomnia, dizziness, and hot flashes. Those who experienced the harsher symptoms were 40% more likely to develop hypertension over the next two decades.

Before you freak out, know that the study doesn’t actually prove that PMS causes high blood pressure. It simply points out a link between the two and even suggests that both PMS and high blood pressure could be caused by the same thing, such as genetics or differences in vascular systems. There’s also the possibly that it is because some of our coping medications, such as birth control, are known to raise blood pressure.

Basically, those of us who consider our heating pads part of our squad need to be extra cautious, and replace some our period-habits (like napping all day or binge-eating cookies) with healthier alternatives such as exercising, meditating, or hey, maybe a spa treatment.

(Image via Fox)