Let’s dispel this myth: Menopause itself does not cause heart disease. But women should pay close attention to changes in the body that occur with menopause that may contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Statistics surrounding women and heart disease show that women are very much affected by the condition.
- Cardiovascular disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year.
- Cardiovascular diseases affect approximately 44 million women in the U.S.
- Women have a higher lifetime risk of stroke than men.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the U.S
Menopause is not a disease, but rather a natural phase of a woman’s life cycle. It’s an important distinction for women to understand and a time for women to take stock in their health habits as their body experiences changes associated with menopause.
Studies show that a decline in estrogen may be a factor in heart disease increasing in post-menopausal women. It’s believed that estrogen helps keep blood vessels flexible in the inner layer of artery walls, allowing blood to flow more freely.
Additionally, blood pressure and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels increase during menopause while HDL “good” cholesterol levels decrease or remain the same. Triglycerides or certain types of fat in the blood also increase. All of these changes create risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
It’s important for women to maintain a healthy lifestyle – or start one – as they age and menopause begins. Eating healthy and exercising regularly are two key components that can help prevent heart disease.
If you are experiencing menopause symptoms, talk to your doctor about the importance of healthy habits in the fight against heart disease. It is especially important if your family history indicates a presence of cardiovascular disease.