We are excited to be partnering with Life Line Screening to provide this important health preventative tip.
Cardiovascular disease is among the leading killers of men and women throughout the world and can be a problem at any age. For women, the chances of experiencing a cardiovascular event rise after menopause. That may lead a woman to wonder what she can do to reduce her risk or improve her chances of a good outcome if a cardiovascular event occurs.
Fortunately, knowing what to look for and how to lower risk can help women move through menopause and beyond while staying as healthy as possible. Understanding the factors surrounding the change of life is vital to know how to manage those changes correctly. It’s important to note that while menopause is a natural process, it’s also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
How Many Women Experience Cardiovascular Disease?
Women can experience cardiovascular disease at any age, although their rates are typically lower than men. Adverse cardiovascular events are also less common in women and occur at older ages. Still, approximately one in every 16 women who are older than 20 have cardiovascular disease. One in every five female deaths in the United States is from cardiovascular disease. As a woman ages, her chances of having cardiovascular disease rise.
Biological Changes That Occur With Menopause
When menopause occurs, which is around 54 years of age on average, a woman’s body produces far less estrogen than it did in her younger years. Estrogen is believed to have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system, including the lining of the blood vessels. With less estrogen in the body, the blood vessels may become stiffer and not react easily to changes in blood volume or blood pressure. As that occurs, blood pressure may rise, and plaque may begin to accumulate in the arteries.
Family history plays some role in a woman’s postmenopausal risk for cardiovascular disease, but genetics and a lower estrogen level aren’t the only factors. Additional risk factors include diet and exercise and how a woman is taking care of herself during this time in life. Women often put on weight during menopause, which can raise their risk for cardiovascular disease.
Older Women Have Different Cardiovascular Symptoms Than Men
In men, cardiovascular symptoms often include chest and jaw pain. These are the symptoms that everyone has generally been taught to watch out for. These symptoms can happen to women, but it’s not as common. Instead, women are more likely to experience pain in their back and shoulder blades, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Women who are experiencing these issues or who feel “off” and like something isn’t right should see a medical professional to rule out cardiovascular disease or related issues.
How to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease After Menopause
The goal is to prevent cardiovascular disease, and there are several ways that women can work toward this.
Eating Right. Eating right is one of the most significant ways women can reduce their cardiovascular risk in menopause. That doesn’t mean they can’t have an occasional treat, but choosing a more plant-based diet and reducing fats, carbs, and sugars can help their cardiovascular system stay healthier.
Exercising. Getting enough exercise can help reduce risk, as well. Typically, women who exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, eat a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy body weight are at lower risk for cardiovascular disease and the adverse events that can come with it. It’s not a guarantee of good cardiovascular health but can make a difference and is worth doing for most women in menopause and beyond.
Managing Stress. One area that women often neglect is their mental health. Staying positive and happy can be good for the cardiovascular system and reduce the risk of disease. Some women suffer from depression when they reach menopause, which can damage a lot of systems throughout the body. Rather than muddle through, seeing a mental health professional is how to handle this issue so happiness can be a more regular part of the future. A positive attitude can prolong life, and make it a better life, as well.
Regular Health Screenings. Women in menopause should be working with their doctors to keep their cardiovascular disease risk as low as possible. Regularly checking cholesterol, blood sugar, weight, and blood pressure can catch problems when they’re minor, so they can be corrected before becoming more serious. Medication or lifestyle changes may be needed, but they’re well worth it for keeping risk to a minimum and adding to the chances of a long and healthy life that’s free of the harm cardiovascular disease can cause.
The Benefits and Value of Regular Health Screenings
Getting regular health screenings matters for all postmenopausal women. The basic screenings their doctors do are good, but sometimes, they might not go far enough. Instead, it may be worthwhile to have noninvasive screening to look for plaques and other issues with the cardiovascular system.
Finding these types of issues when they’re minor is an excellent way to keep them from becoming major problems in the future. Prompt treatment is always a better choice than waiting for something to reach a critical point before doing anything about it. Women in menopause will want to be proactive about their medical needs for the best possible cardiovascular health.
Health Screenings Can Help Detect Cardiovascular Risk
One excellent way for women to learn about their risk for cardiovascular disease is to have a comprehensive health screening. Life Line Screening offers a comprehensive panel of assessments that determine your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Life Line screenings can detect:
- Build up of plaque in the carotid arteries
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Atrial fibrillation
- Hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol)
- Peripheral Artery Disease
Armed with the knowledge from a Life Line screening, women can see their doctors and determine whether some medications or procedures need to be part of their future to reduce their risk of cardiovascular issues.
Moving into menopause doesn’t have to mean cardiovascular disease. With a healthy diet, exercise, and the right screenings and treatments, women can improve their cardiovascular system and their chances for a longer, healthier life.