World Menopause Day 2023 - Heart Health 
Did you know that doing through the menopause negatively impacts your heart health?  
According to the British Heart Foundation, women in general have a lower risk of being affected by coronary heart disease. But after the menopause, their risk increases substantially. 
One of the hormones that drops during menopause is estrogen and this is vital for many bodily functions, beyond reproduction. In addition to regulating the menstrual cycle, estrogen affects the reproductive tract, the urinary tract, the heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and the brain. Many organ systems, including the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, and the brain are affected by estrogen and this is why we xperience so many varied symptoms at this time.  
Estrogen has a protective effect on the heart. It helps to control cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of fat building up in your arteries. It also helps keep your blood vessels healthy. 
When estrogen levels fall, fat can builds up in the arteries causing them to become narrower. This increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease, a heart attack or stroke.  
The menopause can also cause changes to our bodies that increase the risk of coronary heart disease such as: 
Weight gain, especially around the middle. This can lead to an increase of visceral fat around your organs. 
The increase of bad cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. 
Less ability to control blood sugar levels, which may lead to type-2 diabetes. 
Increased blood sugar. 
Going through early menopause (before 45) can also increase our chances of having heart problems later in life, due to the extended time without sufficient estrogen. If you are navigating early menopause you should seek advice from your GP or specialist menopause nurse. 
So, what can you do to proactively reduce your risk of heart disease? 
You won't be surprised that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the number one priority during the menopause. This will help you manage your symptoms and promote better long-term heart health. Specifically think about:  
1. Maintaining a healthy weight - try to eat natural, nutritious food that gives you energy, without the excessive calories. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean meat & fish and keep your salt & sugar down. 
2. Increasing your activity levels - think about how you can incorporate activity into your daily routine so you are moving more. The best form of exercise is the one you enjoy and can stick to. If you don't want to start formal exercise, think about how activity can be increased in your daily routine. For example, walking up the stairs at work, getting off the bus a stop earlier, getting on your bike instead of in the car.  
3. Reducing your alcohol consumption - many women find that alcohol increases menopausal symptoms (hot sweats and palpitations) and may reduce alcohol naturally during this time. Alcohol when socialising may be a habit that doesn't serve you, so think about how you reduce it whilst still having a nice time. 
4. Stopping smoking - we know that smoking may exacerbate menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and palpitations but people use it as a strategy to cope with stress during menopause. Think about reducing smoking over time by using replacement products or starting new routines that keep you distracted. 
5. Consider taking HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) - As well as treating many of the symptoms of menopause, HRT has been proven to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This is because the estrogen protects the heart. We know that the earlier HRT is started the more effective it is at protecting us against the risk of coronary heart disease. It is important to talk to your GP about HRT and whether it is right for you.  
Being aware of how we can manage our heart health during menopause and beyond is so important. Following these steps will have a significant impact on our future heart health. 
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