Cardiovascular health has had its fair share of exposure. People have heard of it, even if they haven’t undergone a procedure personally. However, when it comes to women symptoms become more evident after the onset of menopause. While heart disease is considered as a man’s disease, globally it claims more lives among women than men.
Menopause does not cause cardiovascular disease per say; however certain risk factors at the time of menopause like a high-fat diet, early age smoking etc. certainly take a toll on one’s cardiovascular health. The reason why menopause is the centre of the discussion here is because during the time of menopause, the body goes through hormonal havoc.
Here are the risk factors which cause the increase in risk of cardiovascular health in women:
Estrogen levels play a role: A decline in the natural hormone, estrogen, is a factor when it comes to decline in cardiovascular health, in post-menopausal women. Estrogen has always been believed to play a pivotal role in the positive effect on the inner layer of the arterial walls. These hormones considerably reduce the risk of stroke in women.
However, several studies about the various other factors causing the decline in cardiovascular health are still under different stages of research.
Cardiovascular health history: Being an ardent follower of a healthy lifestyle and continuing the same during menopause, considerably reduces the risk of a heart disease or a stroke. A person with a history of cardiovascular diseases running in the family is at a heightened risk.
Given the increased risk, a person should be aware of their cardiovascular health and take adequate precautions.
After menopause, there is a risk of increase in cardiac disease as the protection offered by estrogen declines. At the age of 50 years more than 50 per cent of the deaths occur in women, due to problems related to cardiac health.
Further complications are basically worsening of cardiac function and dip in the quality of life. Generally, women who frequently smoke, who are diabetic and hypertensive or have a family history of these along with bad cholesterol, are at a higher risk of having cardiac disease post-menopause.
The fall in the levels of estrogen impact the bones too, apart from the heart. The bones might become thin and prone to fractures. The risk factors of cardiac disease are stroke, thrombosis in veins and thinning of bones, amongst post-menopausal women.
Here’s what you can do to prevent cardiovascular diseases
As per recommendations, women in their late 40s and early 50s should be following a dietary pattern that is rich in carbohydrates and proteins. A meal comprising of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, nuts are necessary for a healthy heart.
Physical activity for at least an hour is must to keep the risk of cardiovascular diseases at bay. Walking, cycling, dancing, swimming are very helpful in preserving cardiovascular health.
The author is a Consultant Gynaecologist, Obstetrician, Laparoscopic Surgeon at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi