heart health and menopause
heart health and menopause

How The Hormonal Changes Of Menopause Can Impact Your Heart Health

Posted on October 12, 2023 by Henry Ford Health Staff

Menopause brings about a lot of hormonal-related changes for women. And while you might be thinking about things like hot flashes and the end of your menstrual cycle, many women are not aware of how these hormonal changes can impact your heart.

Ryhm Radjef, M.D., a cardiologist at Henry Ford Health, explains that reproductive hormones such as estrogen and progesterone have a protective effect on your heart.

“After menopause, your body has stopped producing those hormones and as a result, your heart loses that protection,” says Dr. Radjef. “This is why post-menopausal women are at an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.”

Understanding Your Heart Health Risk Before Menopause

According to Dr. Radjef, the best thing that you can do as you are entering into perimenopause and then starting menopause is to take a closer look at the heart disease risk factors in your life and see what you can do to make modifications. “Taking control over certain aspects of your health and wellness can lower your chances of developing heart disease after menopause,” Dr. Radjef adds.

Modifiable risk factors include:

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  • Hypertension (high blood pressure). When blood pressure is high, it requires the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. When the heart is under this pressure for too long, it is unable to keep function at the same level – leading to larger complications such as a heart attack or stroke.
  • Diabetes. Being diagnosed with diabetes can double your risk of developing heart disease. If left unmanaged, your odds are even worse.
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). High cholesterol can lead to fatty plaque buildups inside your arteries – putting you at increased risk for blockage.
  • Obesity. Excess weight is often associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. It can cause fatty deposits to build up in arteries and make it difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.
  • Smoking and tobacco use. Like high cholesterol, smoking tobacco products can lead to arterial plaque buildup – putting you are greater risk for a stroke or peripheral artery disease.

Talk with your doctor first to learn what you can do to take control of these risk factors in your life.

Lifestyle Changes To Make To Prevent Heart Disease

“In addition to looking at your modifiable risk factors, it is also necessary to change your lifestyle,” says Dr. Radjef.

Research shows that approximately 80% of heart disease cases are preventable. Taking steps to make necessary lifestyle changes before menopause can help to lower your risk once your body stops producing estrogen.

Dr. Radjef recommends to:

  • Change your diet. Focusing on making more heart-healthy food choices can help reduce your intake of added fats and sodium.
  • Exercise regularly. Working out, even for short periods of time, helps strengthen your heart muscles.
  • Talk to your doctor about medication options. If you have high blood pressure or other risk factors of heart disease, talk with your doctor to see if medication is an option for you to help manage your condition.
  • Keep up to date with regular health screenings. Work with your doctor to set up regular screenings (if recommended) to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes risk.

“Making these lifestyle changes now is going to be key to prevent cardiovascular disease in the future,” says Dr. Radjef.

Reviewed by Dr. Ryhm Radjef, Director for the Women's Heart Center and Cardio-Obstetric Program at Henry Ford Health.

Categories : FeelWell

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