‘The change’ changes women’s heart-disease risk

Few people talk about menopause and heart disease in the same sentence. That should change.

As women age and move out of their child-bearing years, their estrogen levels decrease.

Estrogen, however, does an amazing job of helping prevent heart disease. Estrogen gives good cholesterol more power and diminishes the impact of bad cholesterol on the body. Estrogen keeps veins and arteries pliable so blood flows freely through the body. When blood flow is restricted, blood pressure rises, putting strain on the heart.

Healthcare experts and their female patients should talk about menopause and heart health so women know what they can do on their own and what help their care team can provide.

Knowing your numbers is key. All of these contribute to a woman’s risk of heart disease, stroke and other related health issues.

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood sugar
  • Body Mass Index or BMI

Once women know their level of heart-disease risk, they can work with their care team on lifestyle changes and medication or innovative heart procedures, if needed.

These do-able lifestyle changes can help reduce the chance of having a heart attack.

  • Stop smoking
  • Choose healthier foods
    • Poultry and fish; limit red meat
    • Grilled and baked; avoid fried
    • Blueberries, almonds as snacks
  • Portion control, especially carbs
  • Regular exercise; not just a stroll

One challenge during the years leading up to when a woman’s period stops is that menopause and heart disease boast some of the same symptoms, including:

  • Night sweats
  • Lack of energy
  • Gaining weight

Because heart disease can be deadly, women – and the men in their lives – should know to seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 when they experience these symptoms.

  • Chest pain, pressure
  • Arm, neck, back, jaw pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting

Learn more about heart disease – the number-one killer of women of all ethnicities – from these female cardiologists right here in Illinois.

Plus, you’ll find good advice for focusing on heart health early children, teens and young adults.

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