Menopause and Heart Disease

Once a woman reaches the age of 50, about the age of natural menopause, her risk for heart disease increases. Menopause does not cause cardiovascular diseases. However, certain risk factors increase around the time of menopause and a high-f

Updated: November 8, 2017

Once a woman reaches the age of 50, about the age of natural menopause, her risk for heart disease increases. Menopause does not cause cardiovascular diseases. However, certain risk factors increase around the time of menopause and a high-fat diet, smoking or other unhealthy habits begun earlier in life can cause heart disease.
During menopause, levels of the female hormone estrogen drop significantly. This can cause the following factors responsible for heart disease.

High blood pressure:

During menopause the estrogen levels drop making your heart and blood vessels stiff and less elastic. Because of these changes, your pressure in the blood tends to rise, causing hypertension. Elevated blood pressure can put more strain on the heart causing heart disease such as stroke or heart failure.

High cholesterol :

Lack of estrogen can also cause detrimental changes in your cholesterol and blood fats. Your good cholesterol (HDL) level might decrease, and your bad cholesterol (LDL) level might increase, which increases your risks of heart attack and stroke. Triglycerides also increases because of the drop in estrogen.

Diabetes:

When women go through menopause, they are more likely to become resistant to insulin. Insulin is the hormone needed to convert blood sugar and starches into energy for cells to use. As a result women can become prediabetic and diabetic as they transition from premenopause to menopause. Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

Abnormal heart rhythms or Atrial fibrillation: 

Women may experience increase in abnormal heart rhythms around the time they go through menopause.  Hormonal changes can cause a slowing of the heart and heart blockages that can cause symptoms, including dizziness.
Usually the change in hormones causes faster heart rates. This can also happen due to high blood pressure, which is more common after menopause.

Weight gain:

Menopause can cause the metabolism to slow, which contributes to weight gain. Hormonal changes may also cause you to gain weight around your abdomen. And this can put stress on your heart and increase your risk of heart disease.

Symptoms of Heart Disease:

Palpitations:

It is important to identify atrial fibrillation which increases the risk of stroke.

Shortness of breath:

Shortness of breath is also one of the most common symptoms of atrial fibrillation which could be a sign of congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease.

Headaches:

They might be a sign of high blood pressure which is agian a cause of heart disease.

Pressure in the chest:

A feeling of fullness, squeezing or dull pressure in the chest that does not go away or that goes away and comes back could be a sign of a heart attack in women.

Jaw ache :

This could be a sign of an unhealthy heart and is a warning sign of a heart attack in women.

Lightheadedness or dizziness:

This could be caused by a number of disorders, including diabetes, heart failure or atrial fibrillation. All of these are risk factor for heart disease.

Difficulty lying flat:

This could be a symptom of fluid pooling in your lungs as a result of congestive heart failure.

Swelling of the feet:

Fluid could be accumulating in your legs as a result of congestive heart failure.

Prevention of Heart Disease in Menopause:

A healthy lifestyle helps in preventing heart disease in women. Incorporating the following tips into your everyday life may help you reduce your risk of heart disease during and after menopause:

  • Avoid or quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

Exercise throughout the week:

Physical activities and exercise also help reduce many other risk factors. It helps lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces stress, helps keep weight off, and reduce blood sugar levels.

Eat well:

Follow a diet low in saturated fat, low in trans fat and high in fiber, whole grains, legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, vegetables, fish, folate-rich foods, and soy.

Treat and control medical conditions:

Take proper treatment to control the known risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure if you have any.


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