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Menopause brings about a lot of changes in a woman's body. It not only signifies the end of her fertility and child bearing days but is a sign of growing age and the body progressing in a new direction of aches, pains and vulnerability. While some of these are natural, others can prove to be dangerous as it significantly increases the risk of heart disease (unlike common myths, women do get heart attacks). The risk factor is also goes up if the woman suffers from diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. One of the widely known but well ignored fact remains that women with a sedentary lifestyle increase their risk and vulnerability to all of these diseases. A family history in heart disease can also turn into a risk factor when menopause sets in.
The natural age of menopause is considered to be around 50 and when a woman reaches this age, the estrogen levels in her body experience a sharp drop. This hormone is partly responsible in maintaining heart health in women. Other factors that are triggered during menopause include changes in body fat distribution from a gynoid to an android pattern, reduced glucose tolerance, abnormal plasma lipids, increased blood pressure, increased sympathetic tone, endothelial dysfunction and vascular inflammation.
Experiencing menopause? Here's how you can lower your risk of heart disease
A healthy lifestyle never comes by accident, only by choice. And this is an essential key in controlling diseases that come as a side effect of menopause too. Here are some thing you can do:
- Walk / Exercise: This isn't a 5-day week practice. You need to exercise throughout the week in order to maintain heart health. It helps your heart to pump blood through your body and also reduces risks to other diseases like high blood pressure and cholesterol. One key benefit is that it helps keeps the weight off - that should be good reason to walk an extra mile.
- Choose a healthy diet: Most people mistake a diet to be about not eating the things you really like. A good diet can be made very tasty and can also be portioned in such a way that it leaves less room for craving. As always avoid the junk, deep fries and extra helping of cheese.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
We're all guilty of making fun of snorers but sometimes this snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing is not continuous and may start and stop many times while asleep. This affects the quality of your sleep and in turn can affect many aspects of your health including your cardiovascular health. Here's how:
High Blood Pressure
When a sleep apnea patient's breathing stops, the oxygen levels in the blood also suddenly fall. This can increase your blood pressure. High blood pressure means that the heart muscles need to work harder to pump blood through the body.
As a result of high blood pressure, the heart walls may become thicker and the heart muscles become stiffer. This is known as cardioyopathy. As this condition worsens, the heart becomes weaker and is unable to maintain a regular rhythm. This can eventually lead to heart failure.
An irregular heartbeat is also known as arrhythmia. This may also be related to the changes in the heart's structure that follow the drop in blood oxygen levels. In many cases, arrhythmia has no visible symptoms and can often go undiagnosed. This can result in the formation of blood clots in the atria which can lead to a stroke.
Sleep apnea is easy to diagnose. If the doctor feels that you show symptoms of sleep apnea, you may be asked to stay on the hospital overnight and undergo a sleep evaluation. This tests a variety of body functions including brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels.
Treatment for sleep apnea depends on the causes for this condition. If you are overweight, regular exercise and a change in diet can help you lose the excess weight and cure sleep apnea. Similarly, if your sleep apnea is triggered by an allergy, treating the allergy can help cure the sleep apnea. Other forms of treatment for sleep apnea may include:
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
This is a machine which pumps air into the body through a nasal mask. By keeping the pressure in the machine higher than normal air pressure the upper airway passages are kept open and hence the quality of your sleep is improved. An auto CPAP machine can modulate the air pressure such that it is higher when you inhale and lower when you exhale.;
Your doctor may suggest oral devices that allow you to keep your mouth open while you sleep. This is easier to use than CPAP machine but less effective.
Surgery is the last resort when it comes to treatment for sleep apnea.