Post Menopausal Women – Heart To Heart


As women age, there are many changes that take place in her body – menopause being one of them. Most women reach menopause by age 54 when there is a complete cessation of the menstrual cycle. It is seen that there is a general increase in the incidence of heart attacks in women after their menopause. The general perception of people is that men are at a greater risk of getting heart attacks rather than females, but it is not so. Heart disease is the most common cause of death for women after menopause. In fact, more than half of the deaths in women above 50 years is due to heart disease. Menopause is not seen as the cause for cardiovascular disease, but some of the risk factors associated with heart disease increase at that time.

Menopause is a naturally occurring process in all women. So, what could be the probable reason for an increase in heart attacks in women during menopause?

• Declining Estrogen Levels:
During menopause, the estrogen levels drop significantly. Estrogen is responsible for flexible arteries & strengthening of their interior walls. The decline in estrogen may be a reason for an increase in heart disease in post-menopausal women.
• Increase in Blood Pressure and LDL Cholesterol during Menopause:
During menopause, blood pressure levels start to go up. Along with this, LDL cholesterol levels may increase along with a decline in good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Triglycerides, a certain type of fats in the blood also increase, thus increasing the risk of heart disease. To identify the right food items that aid in maintaining blood pressure levels, weight loss programs do come to the rescue.

Here are some risk factors for heart disease during menopause:

• Diabetes
• Smoking
• High Blood Pressure
• Obesity
• Being Physically inactive
• Elevated lipid levels
• Family history of heart disease etc.

How can women in their menopause reduce their risk of heart disease?
It is very possible to stay healthy during and after menopause. Maintaining good heart health is possible with the following tips:

Maintain a healthy waistline: A thicker waistline increases the triglyceride levels, increases blood pressure and thus the incidence of heart disease. Also, low estrogen levels affect the way in which body fat is stored and utilised during menopause. Low metabolism during this phase can also contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of heart disease.

• Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet with healthy fats and low in sugar and processed foods contributes to good heart health. Emphasize on the following foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dals and beans, nuts, low fat dairy products and fish and lean meats.
Keep a watch on the intake of simple sugars through sodas, sugary drinks, sweets, desserts, etc. Limit or keep away from foods containing saturated fats and trans fats. And lastly, limit the intake of red meat.

• Be active: Exercise regularly. Exercising for 150 minutes a week contributes to heart health. However, if weight loss is on the cards, exercising for 300 minutes a week should be the goal. Walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, dancing are all good forms of exercise which use the larger muscles.

• Adopt a healthy lifestyle: Quit smoking as tobacco is a risk factor for heart disease. Reduce the intake of alcohol and follow the recommended limits if the intake is above the limit. Try and get sufficient sleep each night. Stress can contribute to cardiovascular well being. Stress relaxation techniques like yoga, exercise, meditation can improve cardiovascular health.

• Regular screenings: Get regular checks for blood pressure, lipid levels, weight and food intake to access your risk and make the necessary changes in diet, lifestyle and medications.

Menopause brings a huge change in a woman’s life. Heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle modifications. If you’ve followed a healthy lifestyle and continue doing so at menopause, your risk for heart disease is lowered. Tend to yourself during menopause as you are irreplaceable. Following a heart healthy diet can be a challenge if you are not aware of what to include and exclude from your diet. Café Nutrition with their nutritionist in Mumbai and dietitians in Mumbai can help you plan heart healthy meals for a healthy outcome.