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Heart Disease and Menopause

From the Menopause and Hormones Articles List

Woman wondering about heart disease during menopauseIs there a connection between menopause and heart disease?

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and risk factors can increase as women age. Natural menopause is also a risk factor, and women with preexisting risk factors who have gone through menopause have an even higher risk for heart disease. Unfortunately, going into menopause early, such as following a bilateral oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), also significantly increases risks for coronary heart disease.

The decrease in estrogen during menopause could be one reason for the increased risk of heart disease. Estrogen has a positive affect on the cardiovascular system because it helps keep blood vessels flexible. When estrogen levels decrease, the blood vessels can stiffen and cause high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure can, in turn, damage your arteries and heart.

Another reason for a greater risk of heart disease during menopause is that your cholesterol levels can increase as your estrogen levels decrease. Both bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides can increase, while good cholesterol (HDL) may either stay the same or decrease. Too much cholesterol in your blood can cause arteries to become restricted and less flexible, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches your heart.

During menopause, women may also eat more, be less active, and have a decreased metabolism, all contributing factors to weight gain–another risk factor for heart disease. Being overweight increases your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and blood sugar issues, all risk factors for heart disease.

All women will face menopause at some point in their lives, so being aware of it’s affects on heart disease can help you make better choices for better health. While you can’t avoid menopause, you can take steps to minimize it’s impact on your heart.

You should discuss hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with your doctor, especially if you are dealing with surgical menopause at a young age. To help decrease your risks and keep your heart healthy, you can also eat healthy, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, not smoke, limit alcohol, and manage stress effectively. If you have health conditions, such as diabetes, or a family history of heart disease which increase your risks for heart disease, it’s especially important for you to be diligent with your heart health during menopause.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

10-27-2015 - 10:36 PM


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