Dr Aparna Jaiswal, Associate Director, Cardiology and Electrophysiology of Fortis Escort Heart Institute explains how menopause is associated with women's heart health. Jaiswal discusses how in addition to lifestyle diseases like weight gain and decreased estrogen levels in mature women, there is a concern for major risk factors of cardiovascular diseases.
Cardiovascular 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 ageing, women experience the biological changes of the menopausal transition.
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 menopause.
HDL stands for "high-density lipoprotein". Nicknamed the "good" cholesterol because wellness experts think it might help the body counter 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.
Therefore, women who had favourable cholesterol values during their childbearing years might end up with a deranged lipid profile later in life. Of course, genetic constitution along with lifestyle factors contributes largely.
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 daily routine:
1. Exercise 30 to 40 minutes daily preferably brisk walking.
2. Intermediate cardiovascular activities like swimming, tennis, aerobics or zumba are good along with stretching, pilates, and yoga for better muscle toning.
3. Maintaining body fat at an ideal BMI is essential.
4. Checking body fat percentage and ensuring that it is in the ideal range is necessary.
5. A well balanced, high fibre, moderate protein is necessary to maintain a good lipid profile.
6. 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.