Menopause and Heart Health: What You Need to Know

Did you know that the age at which a woman experiences menopause is connected to her risk of heart disease?

A recent study found that women who experience menopause at a younger age have a higher risk of heart problems (Dam et al., 2019). Even after considering other factors like surgery, there’s still a connection between menopause and heart health that we don’t fully understand (Dam et al., 2019). This discovery highlights the importance of paying attention to women’s health during and after menopause to keep their body’s healthy (Dam et al., 2019).

Heart Disease & Menopause

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) or heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women from Western countries, with 17.5 million deaths worldwide in 2012, and which represents 31% of all deaths globally (Dam et al., 2019).

Although many people are aware of the risks of heart disease and know it’s something to avoid and worry about. Not many people know that women over 50 are a lot more at risk of this disease (Dam et al., 2019). This sudden increase in risk has led researchers to investigate and hypothesise that menopause may be behind this (Dam et al., 2019).

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life when her body decides to gracefully exit the bustling rhythm of monthly menstrual cycles.

This transition usually happens around the age of 45 to 55. During this natural process, the making of key hormones ends a women’s ability to fall pregnant.

During this grand end a woman’s body also undergoes a series of changes that can sometimes be as surprising and even uncomfortable.

What Are The Symptoms Of Menopause?

Hot flashes may take the spotlight, bringing sudden waves of warmth that paint the skin red and make you reach for that fan.

Sleep disturbances might also sneak in, causing restless nights. Mood swings could join the scene, making one’s emotions rush all over the place.

And let’s not forget about the supporting roles: night sweats, vaginal dryness, changes in libido, and perhaps even a touch of forgetfulness.

Why Do People Think Menopause Links To Heart Disease?

The reasoning behind this hypothesis went like this (Wellons et al., 2013):

1. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.

2. There is a noticeable increase in heart disease risk in women after they do through menopause.

3. Women typically develop coronary heart disease several years later than men.

4. This risk increases in women if they go through early menopause.

Hypothesis = Menopause transition (MT) contributes to the increase in coronary heart disease risk.

Does The Evidence Support The Link Between Heart Health & Menopause?

Short Answer: Yes.

Long answer: Yes, there is a strong connection between menopause and heart health. A study by the American Heart Association found several important points:

1. Menopause Transition and Heart Disease Risk: Menopause brings about changes in hormones, physiology, and emotions that can raise a woman’s risk of heart disease.

2. Differences in Menopause Stages and Risk: Menopause isn’t the same for everyone. It involves different stages and hormonal changes, which can impact a person’s heart disease risk.

3. The Timing and Type of Menopause Matter: The age and type of menopause (natural or surgical) also affect heart disease risk. Early menopause, whether natural or surgical, may increase the risk, especially without hormone replacement therapy.

4. Cardiometabolic Changes During Menopause: Heart-related changes like blood pressure, lipids, metabolic syndrome, and vascular remodeling occur during menopause. These changes aren’t just due to aging; they contribute to heart disease.

5. Early Intervention Opportunities: Menopause is a crucial time to start preventing heart disease. Lifestyle changes, hormone therapy (if suitable), and medications can help.

6. Gap in Guidelines: Current heart disease prevention guidelines don’t specifically address menopause and its impact. More awareness and attention are needed to manage women’s health during this phase.

In conclusion, the study shows a clear link between menopause and heart health. Understanding these changes is essential for creating effective strategies to protect women’s heart health during midlife.

How Can You Protect Your Heart Health?

Medical testing can play a crucial role in protecting your heart health during menopause by helping to identify risk factors, monitor changes, and guide treatment strategies.

Here are some ways in which medical testing can help:

1. Hormone Level Monitoring:

Monitoring your hormone levels, including estrogen, through blood tests can provide insights into hormonal changes during menopause. While these tests are not a direct measure of heart health, they can inform discussions about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and its potential effects on cardiovascular risk.

This is particularly useful as reports have correlated the use of estrogen for the treatment of menopausal symptoms with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system (Naftolin et al., 2019). Molecular, biochemical, preclinical, and clinical studies have furnished a wealth of evidence in support of this outcome of estrogen action

2. Cardiovascular Risk Assessment:

Regular assessments of cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels, can help identify your risk for heart disease. These assessments can be performed through routine blood tests and blood pressure measurements.

3. Comprehensive Health Assessments:

Comprehensive health assessments by healthcare providers specializing in women’s health can take into account various factors, including family history, lifestyle, and overall health, to create a personalized plan for heart health during menopause.

4. Regular Follow-Up:

Consistent follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider can help track changes in your cardiovascular risk factors and overall health, allowing for timely interventions if needed.

It’s important to note that the specific tests and frequency of testing may vary depending on individual risk factors and health history. Consult with a healthcare provider who specializes in women’s health to determine the most appropriate medical testing and monitoring plan tailored to your unique needs during menopause. Early detection and management of cardiovascular risk factors can significantly contribute to the protection of your heart health during this stage of life.

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