Cardiovascular disease has become the leading cause of death in women over the age of 50. Once thought to be a man’s disease, statistics now tell a different story. There seems to be a connection with the age of natural menopause and increased risks for heart disease. But how can women decrease their chances of developing heart disease during and after menopause? By understanding which risk factors can be changed, certain lifestyle changes may help to significantly reduce the odds.
Risk Factors For Heart Disease That Cannot Be Changed
The aging process is one of the largest contributing risk factors for heart disease. In addition to this, a family history of cardiovascular disease along with your personal history are factors as well. While there is nothing that can be done to change this, there are other things that may be considered.
Other Risk Factors
Women who enter menopause early (prior to the age of 40) are at an increased risk. Other factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, lack of physical exercise, smoking, high LDL and low HDL.
How Menopause Is Correlated With Heart Disease?
Low levels of estrogen during the menopause stage contribute to increases in LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol). This significantly increases a woman’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease as a result.
How Aging Contributes To Risk Of Heart Disease?
As the body ages, the amount of lean muscle mass decreases. This signals a slowing of the metabolism. Calories are burned at a much slower rate. If exercise is not increased or calorie intake is not decreased, the result will be weight gain. Obesity presents another risk factor in developing heart disease.
If you are a smoker, quit immediately. This will take one of the factors for heart related issues out of the equation as smoking increases the risk of heart attack by double. Also, avoid inhaling second hand smoke from others.
If you are overweight, get on a healthy diet plan to help shed the extra pounds. By maintaining a healthy body weight , you are reducing your risks even further. Recent research shows that being overweight at the onset of menopause can contribute to higher risks of heart disease.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet that provides your body with all of the nutrients that it needs. Make sure to include foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in salmon, tuna, trout, and a variety of other fish and seafood. Lean proteins, plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products and whole grains. Limit your portions so you won’t pack on extra weight.
Limit the amounts of fat, salt and sugar in your diet as these can help to contribute to the development of cardiovascular issues. Alcohol should also be eliminated or limited to no more than one drink per day.
It’s a good idea to use products that contain soy when going through the stages of common symptoms of menopause as soy contains natural compounds that help to restore hormonal balance. Phytoestrogens and isoflavones act like estrogen in the body, so they will help to keep the body functioning in the ways that it did prior to the onset of menopause.
Other helpful foods that contain hormone like substances that may be helpful include flaxseed, nuts, bran, black cohosh, wild yam and dong quai (herb). Natural supplements containing these ingredients can be purchased from health food stores.
Get plenty or regular exercise. This will help in two ways. First, exercise helps to build muscle, including the heart and it can also help you to burn off any extra calories and better manage your body weight. If you enjoy bicycling, swimming or dancing, turn up the volume as these activities can help to keep you healthier and they can reduce stress levels as well.
Regardless of the number of static risk factors that a woman has, such as age, family history and personal medical history, there are still many things that can be done to lessen the likelihood of heart disease. By making lifestyle changes that include abstaining from tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting plenty of exercise, many additional risk factors can be reduced or eliminated.