Yes, menopause can increase the risk of heart disease or cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is because menopause is associated with a number of changes in the body that can increase the risk of CVD, including:
- Changes in cholesterol levels: Menopause can cause cholesterol levels to rise, which can increase the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Changes in blood pressure: Menopause can also cause blood pressure to rise, which is another risk factor for CVD.
- Weight gain: Many women gain weight around menopause, which can also increase the risk of CVD.
- Changes in hormones: Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that play a role in protecting the heart. Menopause causes levels of these hormones to drop, which can increase the risk of CVD.
In addition, these changes in the body can also increase the risk of other CVD risk factors, such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
How hormonal changes in menopause can affect cardiovascular health
Menopause brings about a decline in estrogen levels, a key reproductive hormone in women. Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining cardiovascular health by promoting healthy blood vessel function, managing cholesterol levels, and having an anti-inflammatory effect on the arteries. When estrogen levels decrease during menopause, these protective effects diminish, leading to an increase in the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
Signs you have heart disease during menopause
Some of the signs of heart disease during menopause include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or fainting
- Palpitations (feeling like your heart is racing or skipping beats)
- Shoulder, arm, or back pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor to get checked out.
How to reduce your risk of heart disease during menopause
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease during menopause, including:
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Exercise can help to lower your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and weight.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of CVD. If you are overweight or obese, talk to your doctor about how to lose weight safely.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for CVD. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your heart health.
- Manage other health conditions: If you have other health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to manage them carefully. This can help reduce your risk of CVD.
Testing your hormone levels during menopause
Testing your hormone levels during menopause can help you understand your risk of CVD and other health problems. There are two tests that we offer that can help you test your hormone levels during menopause:
- Menopause Check: This test measures your FSH levels, which rise as you approach menopause.
- MenoBalance Check: This test measures a panel of hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone, and testosterone.
Both of these tests can be done at home in three steps. After you complete the test, you will receive a report with your results and doctor’s guidance.