Meno Health. Clinical Evidence.

TWC #034: Heart diseases are not men’s diseases

Heart diseases are not men’s diseases

Many women think that heart disease is a man’s disease. But this is not the case. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in women. In fact, after the age of 50, almost half of all deaths in women are due to some form of cardiovascular disease. At the age of menopause, i.e. from around 50 years of age, their risk of heart disease increases dramatically.

Young women who undergo premature or surgical menopause and do not take oestrogen also have a higher risk of heart disease.

Post-menopausal women have an even higher risk if they suffer from any of the health and lifestyle-related diseases.

How menopausal women can reduce their risk of heart disease

Avoid high blood pressure

A combination of oestrogen loss and ageing leads to less flexibility in blood vessels. Stiffer arteries contribute to higher blood pressure, which plays a role in the development of heart disease, heart failure and strokes after menopause. Being overweight can also increase blood pressure as it puts more strain on the heart when pumping blood. Therefore, check your blood pressure regularly.

Diabetes – blood sugar levels

Although the menopause is not the cause of diabetes, research suggests that there is a link between the loss of oestrogen and the rise in blood sugar levels at the start of the menopause. If the menopause occurs before the age of 40, the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes at the age of 55 is four times higher. High blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart and blood vessels. Prediabetes, in which the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet as high as in diabetes, is also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Here too, it is important to check your blood sugar levels regularly.

Overweight – belly fat is bad

During the menopause, there is often weight gain in the abdominal area, which indicates an increase in visceral fat. This fat surrounds the internal organs and contributes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes – all risk factors for heart disease. If you carry more weight around your waist, you have a higher risk of having a heart attack than if you’re just heavier overall. If your waist circumference is 90 cm or more, you probably have extra visceral fat. The more you are above your ideal weight, the harder your heart has to work to supply your body with nutrients. Therefore, try to maintain your weight.

Health history

If you had certain complications during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, premature birth or miscarriage, you are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in life.
This also includes a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis.

Heart disease in the family

Your family also influences the risk factors. This increases if your father or brother had a heart attack before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister was treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy before the age of 65.

Cholesterol level

Cholesterol levels affect heart disease through low HDL (High Density Lipoproteins) or «good» cholesterol and high LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) or «bad» cholesterol. This leads to an increased risk of clogged arteries, which block blood flow to the heart, brain and legs. Cholesterol levels should also be measured at regular intervals.

Hot flushes

Fluctuating oestrogen levels during the perimenopause often cause hot flushes. These can also be a health problem. This is because hot flushes are associated with increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Some studies suggest that they are also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Diet and lifestyle for heart health

A plant-based diet low in saturated fat, sugar and sodium is the best way to keep cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure under control.
Look for a diet high in fibre, whole grains, legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, vegetables, fish, folate-rich foods and soy.

Exercise regularly

The heart is like any other muscle – it needs to be exercised to stay strong and healthy. Regular exercise (ideally at least 150 minutes a week) helps the heart to pump blood around the body better. Exercise and sport also help to reduce many other risk factors. They help to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, maintain weight and improve blood sugar levels.

No smoking

Smokers have twice (or more) the risk of heart attack than non-smokers. Don’t just give up cigarettes, but also stay away from passive smoking, which also increases the risk of heart disease.
Smoking only has a negative effect on your body, which increases even more after the menopause.

As you can see, as is so often the case, your lifestyle has a significant influence on your health. This also applies to your heart. The healthier your lifestyle, the more you can prevent heart disease.

If you need personalised advice or support on your journey through the menopause, contact The Women Circle here.

In our next edition, back on Saturday 9am, we’ll be covering more aspects of the menopause and women’s health. Stay informed and feel well during this special phase of your life.

Online menopause section – symptom checker

Have you already tried our new online menopause symptom checker?

We use 20 simple questions to give you personalised health recommendations based on your symptoms. It is designed to show you initial measures that you can implement straight away. If you have any questions, please contact us at The Women Circle

Click here for the online menopause symptom checker

We, as The Women Circle, communicate daily on LinkedIn. We would be delighted if you followed us on LinkedIn.

If you would like to get in touch with us, please get in touch.

We are here for you.

Joëlle & Adrian

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