This year’s Menopause Awareness Month is shining a spotlight on the connection between cardiovascular health and the menopause. The menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that marks the end of reproductive functions. It is characterised by hormonal changes, including a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels.
These hormonal fluctuations not only impact menopausal symptoms but also have significant implications for cardiovascular health. According to the British Heart Foundation, the risk of cardiovascular disease significantly increases once a woman goes through the menopause. This is because estrogen is a hormone that plays a crucial role in maintaining cardiovascular health, and when it declines during the menopause, heart health cannot be maintained at the same levels.
But what is the role of estrogen specifically? Well, it helps maintain blood vessel flexibility and promotes the dilation of blood vessels, improving blood flow. Estrogen also helps regulate cholesterol levels by increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “good” cholesterol. Additionally, the hormone has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing the risk of plaque formation in the arteries. That’s why estrogen decline can lead to changes in blood vessels, cholesterol levels, and the overall functioning of the cardiovascular system.
Why is Menopause Awareness Month focussing on cardiovascular health?
Cardiovascular disease accounts for 27% of premature deaths in women, and numbers are rising. As obesity levels increase across the world, women are experiencing higher blood pressure and strain on heart health. The Menopause Awareness Month campaign hopes to educate women of all ages about the dangers of ill heart health and the risks associated with the menopause, so that they can act sooner to prevent serious cardiovascular events.
Some of the ways that the menopause is linked to declining cardiovascular health are its impact on blood pressure and the changes in metabolism that it causes.
Impact on Blood Pressure
During the menopause, changes in hormone levels can also influence blood pressure. Estrogen helps regulate blood pressure by promoting the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes and widens blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. As estrogen levels decline, blood vessels will relax less, leading to an increase in blood pressure, and high blood pressure is directly linked to poor heart function.
Metabolic changes during the menopause can also contribute to cardiovascular risk. Women may experience weight gain, particularly around the abdomen, and a shift in fat distribution. The British Heart Foundation report tha this increase in abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
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How can you decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease through the menopause?
As women navigate the menopause, it is essential they take a personalised approach to cardiovascular health. Consulting with healthcare professionals who specialise in menopause management can help assess individual risk factors and develop tailored strategies for cardiovascular well-being.
Menopause specialists, such as Bodyline can support wellbeing strategies and these may include lifestyle modifications, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or a combination of both.
Making heart-healthy lifestyle choices is a fundamental aspect of managing cardiovascular health during the menopause. Regular exercise, including aerobic and strength training, can help maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular fitness.
Following a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is crucial for supporting heart health.
Managing stress through techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation can also have a positive impact on cardiovascular well-being.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment option that involves supplementing the declining hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, through medication. HRT can help alleviate menopausal symptoms and may have cardiovascular benefits.
Studies show that the short-term use of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) on menopausal women not only decreases symptom severity, but also the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease. This is because the additional estrogen keeps the arteries opened and relaxed, preventing cholesterol from building up and potentially clogging. Additionally, HRT can help with the symptoms of menopause that contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease, like increased visceral fat in the abdomen, difficulties with sleeping, and cholesterol levels.
However, the decision to pursue HRT should be based on an individual’s unique circumstances and should be discussed with a healthcare professional, since it is not advisable for everyone.
Bodyline’s specialist menopause nurses can assess the risks and benefits of HRT, taking into account factors such as age, medical history, and cardiovascular risk profile. Our bespoke HRT programmes as well as medical weight loss treatments have helped thousands of women improve their heart health.
Bodyline is Helping to Empower Women through Education
As we celebrate Menopause Awareness Month, it is crucial to empower women with knowledge about the link between cardiovascular health and the menopause. The campaign for menopause awareness emphasizes the benefits of understanding the risks and implementing strategies for cardiovascular well-being, as they can lead to better overall health and quality of life. By taking a proactive approach to cardiovascular health, women can navigate the menopause with confidence and resilience.
At Bodyline, we are dedicated to supporting women throughout their menopause journey. Our comprehensive medical wellness program, the M Plan, offers personalised guidance, tailored treatment plans, and ongoing support for managing menopausal symptoms and promoting cardiovascular health. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals is committed to providing the most relevant and up-to-date information to help women make informed decisions about their cardiovascular well-being.
Additionally, our gold standard corporate plans offer training and support for businesses, with workshops and presentations deliverable to employers and employees alike designed to educate both men and women about the impact of menopause.
This Menopause Awareness Month let’s prioritise cardiovascular health and empower women to take control of their heart health during the menopause and beyond. Together, we can ensure that every woman receives the support and resources she needs to thrive during this transformative phase of life.
To learn more about cardiovascular health during the menopause and how Bodyline’s M Plan can support you on your wellness journey, contact us today at 0800 995 6036 or fill in an online contact form for a call back.