There is a common misconception that heart disease is a man’s disease. As women reach menopause and their natural estrogen levels begin to decrease, the chance of suffering from heart problems drastically increases, and that is why it is important to be in tune with your body and to minimize the risk of heart disease as we age.
Here’s what every woman, regardless of age, should know about the relationship between heart disease and menopause:
● Estrogen plays an important role in heart health because it allows the heart’s artery walls to maintain more flexibility, reducing the possibility for calcium to build up, etc.
● Taking estrogen hormonal drugs post-menopause does not lower the risk of heart disease, despite its natural positive effect on the heart as noted above. Most doctors will advise their patients against it.
● Blood pressure and cholesterol also become huge factors in maintaining heart health after menopause, as an increase in both has become a norm for older women. The decrease in LDL or “bad” cholesterol and the “good” cholesterol, HDL, becomes growingly difficult to control.
● Family history can also be a contributor towards your own future heart health, therefore, if your mother or father has had heart disease, you’re health care practitioners should take extra precautions for prevention.
● Being overweight as you age can also put a strain on your heart, although changing your eating habits drastically to lose weight quickly can also lead to health problems.
Here’s what you can do to begin minimizing the risk of heart disease and to promote strong heart health no matter if you’re pre, peri, or post-menopause:
Proper nutrition and exercise are key to ensuring you maintain a strong heart as you age. Unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking and smoking can put extreme strain on the other parts of your body, which requires the heart to work harder to keep up. Give your heart time to beat at a normal pace by trying to quit or restrain from these activities.
Certain foods are great for promoting a strong heart and preventing heart disease. These are based around Canada’s Food Guide and include:
● Fruits and vegetables,
● Whole grains,
● Low-fat dairy,
● Poultry and fish;
● A limited amount of red meat and sugars.
If you follow a certain diet, such as veganism or keto, or require certain dietary restrictions as part of your eating plan, be sure to reach out to a nutritionist or doctor to ensure you’re getting an adequate amount of the protein and nutrients you require to stay at your best.