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How Menopause Increases a Woman's Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease isn’t just a man’s problem. Women also face an increased risk as they age, particularly after menopause. By becoming aware of the increased chance of developing heart disease after menopause, women can take steps to remain heart-healthy. Why does menopause mark a turning point for women and their heart disease risk? Here is what you need to know.

Heart Disease and Menopause
Although menopause does not cause heart disease, there does appear to be a link between the onset of menopause and an increased risk. Doctors suspect that falling levels of estrogen may be to blame. Estrogen helps to keep the inner layers of blood vessel walls flexible, which assists in healthy blood flow. When estrogen levels decline during menopause, the blood vessels can become stiffer, and the risk of blood flow being disrupted increases. This may be the reason that a spike in the risk of heart attacks for women occurs about 10 years after menopause. Other changes in the body that occur after menopause also support a greater heart disease risk, including increased cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides. Women who are overweight at the time of menopause and who smoke or eat an unhealthy diet have an even greater risk of experiencing heart problems.

Coping with the Risks
Although the risk of heart disease increases after menopause, there are many things women can do to protect their heart health. Start by embracing a healthy lifestyle, with physical activity on most days and a diet rich in healthy fats and fiber and low in added sugars. See your doctor regularly for checkups and carefully manage conditions that can contribute to heart disease, such as diabetes. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about strategies that can help you quit.

Get the heart care you need at Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center. From our physicians to our emergency care in Las Vegas, we can help you manage heart disease and live a healthier life. For more information about our hospital or a referral to one of our physicians, please call (702) 880-2700.