The development of cardiovascular disease in women over age 60 who have completed menopause is a serious concern. Studies have found that the completion of menopause increases a woman’s chances of death due to this condition. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in women after menopause as is estimated to occur between four and eight times more than from all other disease combined.
Factors Increasing Cardiovascular Disease in Post-Menopausal Women
Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle and it does not cause disease, however; it does increase certain risk factors. Lifestyle during this phase plays a larger part in elevating the risks. Activities such as smoking, alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle and a high fat diet increases the risks of developing cardiovascular disease. These are some of the most obvious contributors, but the changes that occur during menopause present additional risks.
Changes in The Body Chemistry As Risk Factors
Menopause brings about many changes in the body’s chemistry such as higher LDL levels of cholesterol, which are known as the bad type, and occasionally lower levels of HDL cholesterol which is the good type. There are also increases in Fluctuations in hormone levels has also been found to play a role. These factors are known to be culprits in the development of cardiovascular disease. There are correlations between the drop in estrogen levels and cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease in certain types of fats in the blood known as triglycerides.
How Lower Estrogen Increases Risk For Heart Disease?
Estrogen contributes to the elasticity of blood vessels. Less estrogen means that the inside of the artery walls can become less flexible and may have a negative effect upon blood flow. This increases the chances of heart disease and associated vascular issues. The chances of stroke are also elevated by these changes.
How to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease After Menopause?
First and foremost, you can decrease your risk factors by living a healthy lifestyle. It begins with a healthy and balanced diet. By cutting out unhealthy saturated fats, or at least decreasing them you are taking a risk factor out of the mix. Eating a diet high in fiber with whole grains, plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, you’re building a good foundation for your health. Soy products are also known to help as a natural way of replacing estrogen in the body. The amounts of phytoestrogens, which act like estrogen in the body, found in soy products are much weaker, but it’s a natural way of supplementing this hormone.
Control your body weight and get plenty of exercise. This will not only help to burn fat, it will help to keep your muscles strong and healthy. The heart is a muscle and cardio exercise helps to keep it in the best condition.
If you’re a smoker, quit now. Smoking doubles your risk of having a heart attack. Second hand smoke is also a risk. By staying away from all tobacco products, and excessive amounts of alcohol as well, you are lowering your chances of cardiac illness.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy The Answer?
Although estrogen does provide many health benefits, studies have shown that it does not lessen the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, there are many side effects associated with HRT, such as cancer, stroke and heart attack. If your physician has recommended HRT, you may want to continue with the therapy, or at least have a discussion with your health care provider before discontinuing the treatment. The data does suggest that medical therapies that reduce lipid levels in the blood are effective in lowering risks.
The risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease increase in post-menopausal women, but there are many steps you can take to lessen your chances for this. Live a healthy lifestyle with a balanced and healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and avoid substances such as tobacco and alcohol. Your physician can advise whether or not hormone replacement therapy is right for you, but it’s not the answer to slashing your risk level. Your common sense approach to living life is the best way to lessen these serious health risks. By understanding what type of things can lead to heart disease, you are fully equipped to take the steps that will allow you to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.