Menopause Heart Health

Menopause and Heart Health: Protecting Your Cardiovascular Well-Being

We all know that a healthy heart is crucial for our overall health and well-being, no matter what age we are. But when we reach perimenopause and menopause, what impact does it have on our cardiovascular health?

As women transition through the stages of menopause, they often encounter a myriad of physical and emotional changes. While most are aware of the common symptoms like hot flushes and mood swings, what many may not realise is that menopause can also significantly impact your heart health too.

Here, we look at the relationship between menopause and cardiovascular well-being and how to help protect your heart during perimenopause, menopause, and beyond.


Understanding menopause and its impact on heart health

1. Cardiovascular Disease and Women:
Contrary to common belief, cardiovascular disease (CVD) isn't exclusive to men. In fact, the risk of a heart attack can become five times higher after menopause, and CVD is by far the leading cause of death in post-menopausal women.

2. Estrogen's Protective Role:
Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, plays a crucial role in maintaining heart health. It helps regulate cholesterol levels, has anti-inflammatory effects on blood vessels, and promotes the production of chemicals that protect the heart.

3. Estrogen Decline:
During menopause, our estrogen levels will drop significantly. This hormonal shift leads to a whole host of changes in the body, including increased cholesterol levels and the accumulation of fatty deposits in blood vessels.


Heart palpitations in menopause

Many women aren’t aware that heart palpitations are a symptom of menopause, but they’re more common than you think, with approximately 50% of women experiencing them at some point throughout their perimenopause and menopause journey.

When first experienced, heart palpitations can be unsettling and can often catch you by surprise. You may suddenly become acutely aware of your heart beating, which can feel irregular or like it’s beating faster than your usual heartbeat. Some women describe it as a fluttering sensation, while others feel like their heart is racing almost out of control. Palpitations can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes and may coincide with other menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, dizziness, or breathlessness.

As with most things during menopause, these palpitations are caused by fluctuating estrogen levels, which can influence the heart's electrical impulse pathways. While palpitations might feel alarming, they are typically harmless. However, if you have any concerns, it's always best to seek advice from your healthcare professional.

When Should I Be Concerned?

It's important to be aware of potential concerns and symptoms that may indicate the need for medical attention. When you have blocked or narrowed blood vessels, you may experiencepains in the chest, jaw, neck, or arm and feel sick, breathless, or faint. If you are experiencing any of these, seek an urgent appointment with your doctor or, if needed, call 000..

Heart health tips for menopausal women

Today, women on average live to 81 and can spend up to 50% of their lives in some stage of menopause, so it’s important to take charge of your heart health:

1. Dietary Choices:
Opt for a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Minimize saturated and trans fats, as well as processed sugars and salt.

2. Regular Exercise:
Engage in regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, and boost cardiovascular fitness. Try to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

3. Quit Smoking:
If you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking, as we know, is a significant risk factor for heart disease. There's plenty of support and resources to help you quit successfully, your health will thank you for it as you get older.

4. Manage Stress:
Chronic stress has been shown to negatively impact our hearts health. Practice stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness to promote relaxation.

5. Perscribed Medications:
Discuss the potential benefits of perscribed menopause medications with your docotor, be educated and informed, easing symptoms can have a positive impact on heart health for some women.

Prioritising heart health during menopause

It's important to note that not every woman will experience heart-related symptoms during her menopause journey.

If you are worried that something doesn't feel right, you should always see your doctor or menopause specialist. Remember, staying informed and taking positive steps can empower you to navigate menopause with confidence and safeguard your heart for the years ahead.



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This article has been reviewed by our expert advisory team. 

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