Key in Reducing Heart Disease Risk During the Menopause Transition
Women in the menopause transition not only risk having to deal with hot flashes and night sweats, but also changes in lipids, body fat, metabolic syndrome, and vascular health. This can accelerate a woman’s risk for heart disease, the #1 killer of women worldwide.
Hormone levels change during the menopause transition. Estrogen is a hormone that helps protect the heart. Lower estrogen levels have a negative impact on heart health. Arteries can thicken and lead to atherosclerosis, a precursor for a heart attack and stroke. Therefore, one could consider the menopause transition itself as a risk factor for cardiac disease!
It’s not unusual for women with healthy cholesterol levels to suddenly find their blood cholesterol and HDL levels outside the normal range. Excess body weight can shift from the hips to the abdomen, and symptoms of metabolic syndrome can sneak into a woman’s life.
Women during the menopause transition benefit from working with their doctor to monitor lab results for cholesterol and glucose so that early intervention can occur if needed to maintain a healthy heart for many years. Lifestyle practices such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting sufficient sleep, and managing stress go a long way to helping the heart be healthy. If you smoke, quit! It’s never too late to improve the health of your heart.
Women considering hormone therapy need to discuss this with their doctor since some women are better candidates than others. Scientific research suggests there is a window of opportunity for women considering hormone therapy, with initiation prior to 60 years of age or within 10 years of menopause, for the best benefit in reducing cardiovascular risk.
Whether you are currently in the menopause transition, haven’t gotten there yet, or have moved beyond it, take action in caring for your heart. Not only will your body thank you, so will your loved ones!