Hormone Changes Can Increase Heart Disease Risk

Heart Health News     Fall 2017

Statistics show that women’s risk for heart disease increases as we get older. 

And, after menopause starts, we often have more noticeable heart disease symptoms, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

For women, our mid-50s bring along the hormonal changes of menopause. The AHA says the drop in our estrogen levels is thought to have a negative effect on the inner layer of our artery walls. 

Without enough estrogen, our artery walls become less-flexible and don’t handle blood flow as well. This is thought to increase our risk of heart disease, according to the AHA. 

The heart disease risk factors brought on by menopause don’t stop there. The AHA says our hormone changes can also:

As women, we sometimes put ourselves and our health on the back burner as we care for others around us. But it’s important to build new habits that put our health at the forefront, so we stay healthy and around for those we love. 

When we enter menopause our health becomes especially important. Having any of the risk factors above combined with other risk factors – like smoking and a high-fat diet – can lead to serious heart-health problems.

We can take charge of maintaining our heart health by choosing to eat a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Cutting out other bad habits, like smoking, also have positive effects on heart health.

Can’t think of what to replace your favorite morning donut and afternoon chips and dip snack with? No problem – the AHA makes eating well look easy. To help us get the nutrients we need, they recommend a diet that includes a good mix of healthy foods, including: 

  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Your healthy eating plan should focus on these foods while trying to limit amounts of unhealthy options, like sugary foods and drinks, and red meat.

Need an idea for how to get up and get moving? The AHA has a plan for that, too. As women, we need to aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. 

Whether you enjoy walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, or another activity, the important thing is to get your large muscles moving at low resistance to get in a good aerobic exercise, according to the AHA. As usual, you should talk to your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine.

Health screenings are another important part of our health care as we go through menopause. The AHA recommends the following screenings for healthy women to help maintain heart health: 

  • Blood glucose level check – at least every three years
  • Blood pressure check – at least every two years
  • Body mass index check – at every regular health care visit
  • Cholesterol check – at least every five years
  • Waist circumference check – as needed

Whether you’re approaching menopause or already there, these tips can help you stay heart healthy even as your estrogen levels decrease.

For more information about how hormones affect heart health, talk with your doctor or visit www.PremierPhysicianNet.com/heart to find a physician.