Categories: Cardiology

Menopause and Heart Disease

Heart Diseases are extremely common in India. It is also the principal cause of deaths those of which are doubled between 1985 and 2015. The number of deaths due to coronary heart disease rose to over 2.03 million in 2010. Moving a step towards our topic, cardiovascular disease affects women little less than men, but as women hit menopause the cardiovascular disease solidifies their base. Age anyway is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease but the question here is why Women then?

Differences in male and female prevalence of cardiovascular disease:

According to many many studies, men usually develop CVD at a younger age and have a higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) than women.

Why the difference?

Women are gifted with this most amazing hormone called Estrogen.

    • Estrogens moderates blood flow function by targeting estrogen receptors in the vascular smooth muscle cells.
    • Estrogens also initiate the release of nitric oxide and an enzyme called prostacyclin both of which behave as vasodilators allowing an easy and free flow of blood.
    • It also leads to reduced production of endothelin and angiotensin II both of which are vasoconstrictors narrowing the arterial passage.
    • It can also reduce inflammation.
    • It reduces the secretion of certain factors which reduces oxidative stress and also platelet activation.

What is Menopause?

It is defined as a phase in a women’s life where she does not menstruate anymore. Mostly conclude when a woman goes 12 months without having her period. The age varies from 40 to 60 in different females.

The relationship between menopause and cardiovascular disease:

According to various studies a woman reaching menopause before 50, found out to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Women who experience premature menopause that is before 40 years are at double risk of developing a non-fatal cardiovascular event before they are 60 than the other females.

Other Risk Factors:

    • Smoking
    • Obesity
    • Lower education level
    • Hypertension

Female Physiology around Menopause:

We are already aware that a female body secretes less estrogen post-menopause. Along with its circulating levels of estradiol and estrone goes down. These two estrogen byproducts happen to catalyze the metabolism of fat via the liver. Once their level diminishes, females experience adverse variations in body fat composition and vascular remodeling that increases their risk of CVD. Lower estrogen levels also embolden high levels of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. The entire process stimulates a higher level of Bad fat (total cholesterol, LDL levels) and lowers the good one (HDL).

Menopause immensely affects your body mass index along with increasing your waist circumference.

Menopause is unstoppable, what to do?

It’s ok if you cannot stop menopause, but there is a lot you can do.

    1. A proper diet (rich in calcium, vitamin, and antioxidant) will help you overcome the hormonal changes.

Include phytoestrogen like:

    • Whole grains
    • Dried Beans
    • Peas
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Nuts
    • Cereals
    • Flax seeds
    • Sesame seeds
    • Garlic

They help in minimizing the symptoms and problems due to menopause.

    1. It is extremely important for you to indulge in any kind of physical activity like:
    • Zumba
    • Dance
    • Aerobics
    • Swimming
    • Cycling
    • Light Weight exercises
    • Light Yoga and Pranayama, etc.

If these are not possible a brisk walk never harms anyone.

    1. Cardiac Care – Meet your obstetrician, physician, or a cardiologist. Discuss your symptoms. If required commence hormonal therapy. Visit as frequently as possible. The team of doctors will take care of you.

I come across a lot of female heart patients. Most of them are confused and clueless about their heart health.  As much we will talk and know about it, the closer we are too healthy menopause. Stay aware of the changes your body and heart are undergoing. Remember; never be embarrassed to ask for help.

Dr. Hemant Madan (Prof) | Director & Senior Consultant – Cardiology – Adult, Cardiology – Paediatric | Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi and Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram

Narayana Health

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