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May 24

Does Menopause Affect Women's Heart Disease Risk?

While the risk of developing heart disease rises for both men and women as they age, associated symptoms can be more evident in women after menopause. Menopause does not cause cardiovascular diseases, however, certain aspects of menopause can affect your risk factors.

Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life, and it’s marked by a decline in estrogen production, as well as other hormones. It’s believed that estrogen has a positive effect on women’s artery walls as well as keeping blood vessels flexible. Before menopause, a woman’s estrogen helps protect her from heart disease by increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL).

Menopause and Heart Disease

When women undergo menopause the protective effect of estrogen declines. This alone does not explain the rise in women’s risk for heart disease, however, and it is something that researchers continue to try to explain.

Other factors that can affect women’s heart disease risks include:

  • Diabetes: For women who do develop heart disease, this typically occurs ten years later than in men. Because of the associated risk factors of diabetes (obesity, high cholesterol), this ten-year advantage women have is lost.
  • Metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and excess body fat around the waist. Each of these individually increases women’s risks of developing heart disease, but when combined they are perhaps the most important risk factor for determining a woman’s heart attack or heart disease risk.
  • Smoking: Women who smoke are more likely than male smokers to suffer a heart attack.

In addition, there are several steps you can take to help reduce your risk for heart disease. These include:

  • Be more physically active: As little as 30 minutes of exercise daily can reduce women’s risk of heart disease by about 20%.
  • Eat healthily: Choosing to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium can all help decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Reduce your stress: When we become stressed, our bodies release a series of hormones and chemicals that can increase our blood pressure, send our heart rate skyrocketing, and cause us to expend more energy than normal. Chronic stress (and the accompanying effects) can cause long-term strain on our arteries and cardiovascular system. Developing healthy coping mechanisms can help reduce this stress and in turn lower your risk of stress-induced health risks.
  • Don’t smoke: As far as heart disease is concerned, smoking increases your blood pressure, reduces your capacity for exercise, and decreases good cholesterol (HDL). The risk of suffering a heart attack doubles when you smoke as few as four cigarettes a day.

Some in the medical community believe that maintaining proper estrogen levels throughout your life, even through menopause, can help your body retain the protective benefits.

How Abundant Life Health Care Can Help

The most effective way to diagnose hormone imbalances is through saliva testing. This gives us the most accurate snapshot of the “active” hormone levels currently in your body. We can then correct these imbalances using bio-identical hormones, nutrition, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes.
At Abundant Life Health Care, we understand that treating hormonal imbalances means addressing more than just your symptoms. In order for you to have the best outcomes, we address all of the factors that contribute to your wellness.

It’s our goal to help you discover your optimal energy and wellness. Request an appointment to start your journey toward abundant health today.


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May 14

The Science and Art of Nursing

Nursing is a science but it is also an art...


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Apr 12

Debunking Common Myths About Menopause

Menopause is a natural process that affects practically all women at some point in their lives.

Though menopause is a very common occurrence, not every woman will experience the same symptoms in the same way. Because of these differences, there are a variety of myths and misunderstandings about menopause that persist.

Today we’re debunking some of the most common myths surrounding menopause. Five of these menopause myths include:

1. Menopause is just a phase.

Even the definition of menopause is often misunderstood.

Technically, menopause is the point at which a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. Up until that point, she is pre-menopausal, after that point she is post-menopausal. Once a woman is menopausal, she will remain menopausal for the remainder of her life.

The average U.S. woman is 51-years-old when she officially becomes menopausal, and remains menopausal for 30 years. So is this just a phase? I don't think so - it is a significant portion of a woman's life!

A recent study showed that menopausal symptoms lasted an average of 7-12 years. Even the duration of symptoms doesn't meet my idea of "just a phase!"

2. If your mom was miserable after menopause, you will be too.

While it is true that women tend to have the same onset of menopause as their mothers, lifestyle plays a significant role in menopausal symptoms. There is much you can do nutritionally before menopause strikes to help minimize symptoms.

Phytonutrients, phytonutrients, phytonutrients! This means vegetables, and lot of them.  It is especially helpful to eat dark green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, and broccoli.  Low intensity exercise, such as walking or yoga, can also be helpful to minimize hot flashes and night sweats.

We also have better treatment options with bio-identical hormones than your mother had. There's no reason to suffer through menopause just because your mother did. Research your options. And we really hope that bio-identical hormones (and our practice in particular) is your choice for menopausal treatment!

3. The earlier you start your periods, the earlier you’ll hit menopause.

The average age of menarche (the onset of menstrual periods) in the U.S. is currently 12.4 years old. In women born prior to 1920, the average age of menarche was 13.3 years old.

Yet the average age of onset of menopause in the U.S. has been 51 years old for decades. So there is no correlation between how old you were when you start your period and the age you will be when you start menopause.

The only somewhat accurate indicator? Genetics!

Women tend to go through menopause around the same age that their mothers did. However, that isn't very accurate either...

4. Blood tests are the gold standard to test hormone levels.

Hormones that are produced in a gland are released into the bloodstream. Hormones that are NOT produced in a gland (produced in fat, converted from other hormones, etc.) are NOT released into the bloodstream; these hormones are released directly into the tissues of the body. Therefore, a blood test shows the hormones that the ovaries (or other glands) are currently making.

After menopause, what are the ovaries producing? Little to nothing. This is exactly why we use saliva tests to look at hormone levels. Only 35-50% of a women's estrogen is made by the ovaries, leaving 50-65% of estrogen coming from elsewhere in the body.

To determine hormone imbalance, and if we've achieved the correct re-balancing of hormones, we need to know how much hormone is in a woman's tissues, so saliva testing is the best method to determine this.

5. Hormone replacement is dangerous.

When hormones are employed, starting with progesterone-only therapy can be a gentle and often effective treatment, although there are many cases when estrogen is of absolute benefit.

Unfortunately, the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) findings of increased incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer have caused many women to falsely believe that they must choose between the risk of heart attack or cancer and living with symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irritability, and more.

The WHI study was done using oral conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate, which is not the same thing as bio-identical progesterone. The general public, led by the medical community at large, does not typically differentiate between these hormones (conventional HRT) and therapies that employ bio-identical hormones (BHRT) such as estradiol and progesterone.

When hormones are given in physiologic doses, and in correct ratios, the risk profile is profoundly different. Knowledge is power and accurate expectations about menopause and the real risks and benefits of the many treatment options available will have profound impact not only on individual women, but may help to correct the spread of misinformation.

Do you have a hormonal imbalance? We can help.

At Abundant Life Health Care, we understand that treating hormonal imbalances means addressing more than just your symptoms.

In order for you to have the best outcomes, we address all of the factors that contribute to your wellness. We can then correct these imbalances using bio-identical hormones, nutrition, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes.

It’s our goal to help you discover your optimal energy and wellness. Request an appointment to start your journey toward abundant health today.


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Apr 05

It's our Birthday

Happy Birthday to Abundant Life Health Care!

 

 


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Mar 07

Is Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy Safe?

When considering treatment for the relief of menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms, women understandably seek out solutions that are safe and effective.

Often called natural or human-identical hormones, bio-identical hormones provide women undergoing the changes of menopause with safe and effective relief from their symptoms.

Bio-identical hormones are identical in molecular make-up, shape, and structure to the hormones that are naturally created in the human body. Alternative hormone therapy medications like Premarin and Provera use chemically-altered or synthetic hormones that do not match the hormones found naturally in the human body.

On the other hand, since bio-identical hormones are chemically identical they are also inherently compatible. This allows them to be easily absorbed and utilized by the human body.

What Is The Process?

Your clinician will work with you to identify your specific hormonal needs and develop a treatment plan. The process goes like this:

  1. Your hormones are measured via a saliva test so that your clinician can identify any hormonal deficiencies.
  2. Next you’re prescribed a specially formulated compound of bio-identical hormones to restore balance within your body and relieve menopausal symptoms.
  3. Your prescription is filled at a local compounding pharmacy that is convenient for you, whether you live in Boise, Nampa, Twin Falls, or other areas.
  4. Hormonal levels are monitored through periodic testing. This information helps your clinician revise the prescription as necessary.

How Abundant Life Health Care Can Help

At Abundant Life Health Care, we understand that treating hormonal imbalances means addressing more than just your test results or your symptoms. In order for you to have the best outcomes, we address all of the factors that contribute to your wellness.

The most effective way to diagnose hormone imbalances is through saliva testing. This gives us the most accurate snapshot of the “active” hormone levels currently in your body. Based on the plan developed between patient and provider, these test results will assist our provider in prescribing the appropriate treatment and ideal dosage using bio-identical hormones.

Abundant Life Health Care works with many local compounding pharmacy right here in Boise.  We also work with compounding pharmacies throughout the Treasure Valley and beyond. Our providers prescribe individualized doses of bio-identical hormones to correct any underlying hormonal imbalances and these individualized treatments are made specifically for that patient by the compounding pharmacy. These treatments often include creams, triturates, troches, and capsules.

It’s our goal to help you discover your optimal energy and wellness. Request an appointment to start your journey toward abundant health today.


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