Women are at an increased risk of developing heart disease after the onset of menopause. In reference to Dr. Niecca Goldberg, a cardiologist and a volunteer for the American Heart Association, menopause does not trigger cardiovascular diseases but certain risk factors around this period, such as smoking, high-fat diet and other unhealthy habits, can make a woman more vulnerable. Dr. Goldberg, who is also the medical director of the John H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health Center at New York University Langone Medical Center, says that women should take stock of their health when approaching menopause.
Influence Of Hormonal Changes
During menopause, women experience a sharp decline in levels of the natural estrogen hormone. This change is believed to be one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. Health professionals claim that estrogen plays important roles in the maintenance of the inner layers of the artery wall, which keeps the blood vessels flexible. This enables the arteries to relax and expand to accommodate a smooth flow of blood.
Although estrogen appears beneficial, the American Heart Association cautions against the use of hormonal replacement therapy in postmenopausal women to prevent stroke or coronary heart disease because some studies have shown that it doesn’t lower the risks.
According to Dr. Goldberg, estrogen decline during menopause is not the only contributing factor of increased risk of cardiovascular disease. She added that they were still trying to figure out about other contributing changes. Menopause is accompanied by assorted changes in a woman’s body. There is an increase in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol increases while HDL or “good” cholesterol remains stagnant. In addition, triglycerides, which are certain types of fats in the blood, tend to increase.
Symptoms to Watch
In reference to Stacey E. Rosen, MD, vice president of women’s health clinical services at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and an associate professor at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, women approaching menopause should watch out the following symptoms that could be indicators or coronary heart disease:
- Shortness of breathe
- Frequent headaches
- Pressure in the chest
- Swelling of feet
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty lying flat
- Weight gain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
Following a healthy lifestyle all the time is one of the most effective measures of preventing cardiovascular heart disease or stroke at any age, let alone after menopause. If you have a family history of cardiovascular heart disease or stroke, you are also at an increased risk. Dr. Goldberg recommends that women should always take good care of their hearts by engaging in regular exercises, consumption of a healthy diet, and dropping unhealthy lifestyle habits like excessive alcohol use and smoking, which can also contribute to early menopause. These practices can also increase blood clot risks, decreased the flexibility of arteries and a decline in HDL cholesterol levels, in reference to Dr. Goldberg.
To ensure that you are surfacing your body with the right nutrients, the American Heart Association recommends regular consumption of foods such as:
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Poultry, nuts, and fish
- Low-fat dairy products
- Whole grains
You should also limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks, red meat and unhealthy fats.
In reference to Dr. Goldberg, women should ensure that they are getting at least 150 minutes of physical activities every week to prevent cardiovascular disease. If you are in a weight loss program, exercise for at least an hour every day, depending on your personal goal and mission. Some of the exercises include walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing, which use various muscle groups at low resistance. Dr. Goldberg says that you should not be bothered about your looks when exercising or whether you have fashionable exercise outfit. Doing the activity is what works for you and you should get over about your appearance, she adds.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you should contact your doctor to get prescribed medications for treating these conditions that can put you at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If you are on estrogen or combination HRT to lower your risk of heart disease, you should ask your doctor if there are alternative method of prevention, such as
What Is The Connection Between Menopause And Heart Disease?
Every woman undergoes menopause, the natural biological process that marks the end of fertility and menstruation. Menopause is accompanied by physical changes that can put you at an increased risk of heart disease. This has been demonstrated in studies which found that women develop heart attacks after menopause. The good news is that you can lower your chances of developing heart disease or stroke by following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and dropping unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking. Contact your doctor to check whether you are at risk of heart disease if you are past menopause.