Menopause is a time when heart health is importantBy Veita Bland, M.D. / April 14, 2023
One of the most mysterious times of life for a woman is when she is going through menopause. This is a time when there are so many different changes taking place in her body that will affect her future. It is a time when she will no longer have the ability to produce life. It can be emotional for many. Many see the loss of the ability to create a life as a change they were not ready for, a phase to be mourned. Others celebrate the conclusion of what they view as a physical and emotional burden. Many may simply view menopause as just another phase of aging.
Menopause is a time when heart health is particularly important. It is a time when women entering into their late 40s and early 50s may have no idea of the change that is happening in their bodies and especially in their hearts.
It is important that women practice good health prior to menopause. Again, good health practices throughout life are especially important.
Women will produce less estrogen during menopause. They will unfortunately start to accumulate more abdominal fat and may develop more physical symptoms such as high blood triglycerides (a type of cholesterol), low HDL (a good and protective cholesterol), high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Having three of these five symptoms places a woman at increased risk of developing heart disease. With age, the arteries of the body become more thickened and thus more vulnerable to heart disease.
Many women do not realize that heart disease is the number one killer of women, more than all forms of cancer put together. Many women do not know that hot flashes and night sweats are associated with a greater risk of high blood pressure and other heart related illnesses. In addition, depression during menopause is also related to an increased risk for heart disease.
It is known that women who experience natural (not surgical) menopause later in their lives have a lower risk of heart disease. Things that could influence the onset of an early menopause include genetics, cigarette smoking, and the development of cardiovascular disease during childbearing years.
It is truly important for women to intensify their efforts to have good cardiovascular health in their years leading up to menopause.
The keys to good health remain the same. They include being physically active, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, no smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping the cholesterol down, watching the blood pressure and keeping the glucose levels down. Unfortunately, few women do all of these.
The biggest bang for the health buck is to maintain one’s physical activity. This factor can affect women’s heart health, diabetes, weight control, sleep and mental health, stroke risk and heart health.
Remember to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise or a combo of both a week.
It is never too late to add exercise to your lifestyle. The earlier you start implementing physical activities in your life, the better your health benefits. It is always easier to maintain your health than trying to reverse bad habits in life. Let’s go for a walk!
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.