After menopause, risk of Heart Attack is doubled. This (risk) increases further, 10 years after menopause.
One in three adult women have Heart Attack. In fact, Heart Attack is leading killer of women in United States.
Note: Menopause does not cause Heart Attack.
Risk factors that cause Heart Attack after menopause are:
- high fat diet
- unhealthy lifestyle
- and any other unhealthy habits during your younger age.
Most importantly estrogen plays significant role in avoiding any heart disease. Estrogen relaxes blood vessels allowing them to freely expand. After menopause, Estrogen hormone takes a toll. Blood vessels which freely expanded and relaxed once are no longer able to do so.
When your heart needs more oxygen and glucose, the coronary arteries hardly bring in energy as they are more stiff. This also starts onset of atheroma (plaque formation blocking arteries)
For further reading on how atheroma is formed and what you can do about it read Basics of Angina and How to Recover From it
So what exactly happens after menopause (resulting in decreased estrogen level) that causes Heart Attack?
Here are some major changes to note:
- High Blood Pressure: As discussed earlier after estrogen levels have decreased, your blood vessels become stiff. This in turn causes resistance to normal blood flow which results in high blood pressure.
- High Cholesterol Levels: With decrease in estrogen your LDL level (bad cholesterol) goes up and HDL (the good cholesterol) goes down. Triglycerides, which is a certain type of fat, also increases. These changes increase formation of atheroma resulting in a Heart Attack.
- Weight Gain: How your fat is stored and burnt is decided by estrogen. With estrogen gone, your metabolism slows down. This results in weight gain further increasing strain on your heart.
- Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Atrial Fibrillation): Change in hormone level within the body causes irregular heart beat. In some women they might experience slower heart beat. In most cases, during the time of menopause, they might see an increased level of heart beat. Combining with high blood pressure, can increase Heart Attack chances by 50%.
- Diabetes: After menopause, it’s more likely that your body becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin converts sugar and starch into energy which will be used by cells. With insulin not working, sugar level increases in blood thereby starting onset of diabetes.
Not to worry. You can still prevent Heart Attack after menopause. Just follow these simple guidelines:
- Aim for 150 minutes of Physical Activity per week. Try exercises focusing on larger muscles with low resistance i.e swimming, dancing, walking and cycling.
- Eat fruits and vegetables.
- Instead of red meat try poultry and fish.
- opt for low fat diary products.
These changes should be made for life to get all benefits. Don’t just exercise a week and rest for a month. Be determined to change your life and integrate these changes in your life.