Menopause and Women's Heart Health

Dr. Nupur Gupta, Gynecologist & Director, Well Woman Clinic, GurugramCardiovascular disease(CVD)or as we simply term heart health is the leading cause of concern for women. Doctors claim that as women mature with age they are increasingly exposed to high levels of major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases which can be a poor lipid profile including weight gain. In addition to adverse changes associated with chronological aging, women experience the biological changes of the menopausal transition or Menopause.

Decreasing estrogen levels during the transition has been linked to endothelial dysfunction and larger vessel diameters, markers of early adverse vascular changes. Therefore, decreased estrogen following the menopausal transition leaves the vasculature vulnerable to CVD risk factors, such as lipids.

Researchers claim that the protective effect of HDL may be diminished as women transition the menopause. HDL stands for “high density lipo protein.” Nicknamed the “good”
cholesterol because wellness experts think it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.

Women may have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men because the female sex hormone estrogen seems to boost this good cholesterol. But like so much else, everything changes at menopause. At this point, many women experience a change in their cholesterol levels total as well as the LDL cholesterol rise and HDL cholesterol levels drop. This is why women who had favorable cholesterol values during their childbearing years might end up with deranged lipid profile later in life. Of course genetic constitution along with lifestyle factors contributes largely.

Women may have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men

Women today are strictly preached to start taking care of their heart health as soon as they reach 40 years of age or maybe earlier. To maintain good heart health doctors recommend a few additions to the daily routine:
•Exercise 30 to 40 minutes daily preferably brisk walking.
•Intermediate cardiovascular activities like swimming, tennis, aerobics or Zumba is good along with stretching, pilates, and yoga for better muscle toning.
•Maintain body fat at an ideal BMI is essential.
•Checking body fat percent and ensuring that it is in the ideal range is necessary.
•A well balanced, high fiber, moderate protein is necessary to maintain a good lipid profile.
•Consult a nutritionist and discuss food items that raise HDL levels. Green leafy vegetables, walnuts, dark chocolate, fish or wheat germ may be recommended in your dietary recommendation.

Discuss a wellness plan with your doctor early and initiate the transformation steps for your heart health and sail through menopause without health hiccups.