Making Sense Of Menopause And Heart Disease



For women, heart disease is the number one killer. But what’s interesting is that women’s risk of heart disease is moderately low until after menopause. Suddenly the risk jumps as women grow older and the hormonal changes of menopause occur. And scientists still aren’t quite sure what causes this change.

One reason may be that estrogen provides some protection for your body from the damaging effects of cholesterol because the two are chemically similar. But the jury is still out on that cause. What is certain is that as women age, their risk for heart disease increases dramatically and it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

At one time doctors recommended hormone replacement therapy as a way to decrease the risk of heart disease. Now, the experts at the American Heart Association are not recommending hormone replacement therapy.

This is because hormone replacement therapy causes an increased risk of breast cancer and in some cases an increased risk of stroke. In fact, two major studies of hormone replacement therapy and heart disease were completely halted because the risks of these other diseases grew so rapidly.

So, what that means for women is that as the risk for heart disease grows it’s even more important to follow healthy guidelines for nutrition and physical activity. It’s also important to get screenings performed by your physician as recommended. You should also quit smoking and reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, if any.

Because hormone replacement therapy isn’t a viable alternative to decrease your heart disease risk, you should also make sure to talk with your doctor about cholesterol or blood pressure lowering medications if lifestyle changes aren’t working for you. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease.

In addition, it’s critical that women understand the symptoms of heart disease and heart attack. Women and men have different symptoms and sometimes women mistake heart problems for other types of illness.

Symptoms for women include nausea, flu-like symptoms, pain and pressure in the chest, neck, and jaw, and shortness of breath. If you experience these symptoms you need to seek medical treatment right away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Many women ignore these symptoms until it’s too late to stop a heart attack.

Menopause carries and increased risk of heart disease in women, but that doesn’t mean you’ll definitely have heart disease at this time in your life. If you take preventive measures, you can live a healthy high quality life during and after menopause.



 

 

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