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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.
- Hormonal therapy: There has been contradicting evidence on hormonal replacement therapy for estrogen can lower the risk of heart disease. Some women continue to be advised this treatment based on their particular case history, especially for women who undergo surgical menopause (when the uterus and other reproductive organs many have to be removed due to life threatening conditions like cancer).