It can be a little frustrating to learn that certain health risks are out of your control, but a new study released by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has indicated that the onset of menopause can raise a woman’s risk for heart disease. In addition, the study also showed that a shorter reproductive time, a period of time defined by from when a woman begins menstruation to the beginning of menopause, also increased a chance of heart disease. Lastly, the study showed that if a woman had no children, her risk for heart disease was higher. The study was conducted over a period of 13 years and involved more than 28,000 women. None of the study participants had evidence of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. When they were evaluated 13 years later, 5.2% of women had been hospitalized for heart failure.
Why The Increased Risk? What Causes It?
The researchers indicted that a change in level and type of hormone could be one of the culprits for the rise in heart disease in these menopausal and postmenopausal patients, which usually occurs around the age of 54. The American Heart Association has shown that a decline in the naturally occurring hormone estrogen might be one of the culprits. Estrogen is thought to help keep the blood vessels in the heart flexible, meaning that they can better accommodate blood flow.
If It’s Out Of My Control, What Should I Do?
It’s true—menopause and the age when it occurs is out of your hands, as are other risk factors like how long your reproductive time was and if you had children. But this risk factor of age and menopause is just one of the few that women of that age group need to worry about. Other major risk factors of heart disease are obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. It’s important to stay at a healthy weight and eat a diet full of fruits and veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts, while limiting red meat intake and added sugars. The American Heart Association also recommends that women should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Although a lot of patients find dieting daunting, The Woman’s Clinic offers an inspiring program, Healthy Me At TWC, that will work with your individual health and weight loss needs through counseling with a registered dietitian as well as a fitness plan. At Healthy Me, we’re not just about losing weight; we’re also about maintaining a healthy weight for the long run and even gaining a proper amount during pregnancy.
If you have any questions about the role that menopause plays in your increased risk of heart disease, make sure that you make an appointment for a regular yearly exam at The Woman’s Clinic and discuss your heart health with us there. We will make sure to address your concerns and help with any available testing to make sure your heart stays healthy.