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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.

Posted by Karole Beck at 5/24/2018 4:38:00 PM
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