Menopause, which usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, marks the end of a woman's reproductive period. During this hormonal transition, many physiological changes take place, including decreasing estrogen levels. These changes can impact women's heart health.
Hormonal Changes and Heart Health During Menopause
Estrogens, a class of female hormones, have a protective effect on cardiovascular health. They have several beneficial actions, including:
Dilation of blood vessels: Estrogen promotes relaxation of blood vessels, which helps maintain normal blood pressure.
Reduction of inflammation: They also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help prevent damage to artery walls.
Cholesterol control: Estrogens can increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels and decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, reducing the risk of atherosclerotic plaque formation.
However, during menopause, estrogen production decreases significantly, leading to changes in blood vessels and lipid metabolism. This can contribute to increased blood cholesterol levels and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular risk factors during menopause
Several cardiovascular risk factors increase in postmenopausal women:
Arterial pressure : Blood pressure tends to increase with age, including during menopause. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Weight gain: Many women experience weight gain during menopause, particularly around the abdominal area. This can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, becomes more common during menopause. Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular problems.
Metabolic changes and abdominal fat
During menopause, there is often a redistribution of body fat, with greater accumulation of abdominal fat. This abdominal fat, also called visceral fat, is of particular concern in terms of cardiovascular risk. Here's how it works:
Hormones: Hormonal changes associated with menopause can promote fat storage in the abdominal area.
Inflammation: Abdominal fat produces inflammatory substances that can damage arteries and promote the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
Insulin resistance: Abdominal fat is also linked to increased insulin resistance, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Preventive Measures for Heart Health during Menopause
Adopt a healthy lifestyle: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fatty fish can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Regular exercise is also essential for maintaining a healthy weight and promoting heart health.
Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Quitting smoking can have an immediate positive impact on heart health.
Stress management : Chronic stress can negatively impact heart health. Practicing meditation, yoga, or other stress management techniques may be beneficial.
Regular medical follow-up: Postmenopausal women should visit their doctor regularly to monitor their heart health. Tests such as measuring blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels are important.