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Women's Health Topics..

You are here : home > Women's Health > Problems Associated with Menopause > Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular Diseases

Find out what cardiovascular diseases are and what can increase the risk of such diseases in women.

Estrogen has a protective effect on cardiovascular disease in women, but during menopause this estrogen levels decreases thus making women susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. After menopause, women are more prone to heart diseases.

What are cardiovascular diseases?

Cardiovascular diseases are the diseases that affect blood vessels or heart. Such diseases include diseases like heart attack, stroke, heart failure, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, valvular heart disease, venous thrombosis, heart arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, carditis, aortic aneurysms, hypertensive heart disease, peripheral artery disease, thromboembolic disease etc.

Does menopause increase the risk of heart diseases?

Before menopause, heart diseases are uncommon in women who do not smoke, do not have hypertension, hyperlipidaemia (excessive saturated fats in their blood) or diabetes. It is five times more common in men than in pre-menopausal women but once menopause has occurred, the risk of heart disease in women approaches that in men, suggesting a role for the menopausing in this changed risk.

The etiology of heart disease is complex and incompletely understood. However, several studies on the effect of premature menopause on the incidence of heart diseases suggest that earlier the cessation of ovarian function occurs greater the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A role for estrogen deficiency in the etiology of this disease is strongly suggestive.

How does menopause increase the risk of heart diseases?

High plasma levels of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) concentrations protect the heart (cardio-protective), whilst those of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) concentrations increase the risk of heart disease.  Before menopause, serum LDL levels are lower and HDL levels are higher.  But after menopause, LDL levels increase significantly, and thereby increase the risk of heart diseases.

Do women run a greater risk of heart diseases than men?

No.  Before menopause, serum LDL levels are lower in women than in men, and serum HDL levels are higher. Following menopause, LDL levels in women rise but do not exceed the levels in age-matched men.

What is the role of the estrogen in preventing heart diseases?

Estrogen in pre-menopausal women has a protective effect on cardiovascular disease, probably mediated through its effect on the HDL:LDL ratio.  But estrogen may work in other ways such as by a direct effect on blood vessels or by stimulating direct effect on blood flow in organs such as the skin, uterus, vulva and kidneys.

What are the other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases?

Listed below are the other factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Consumption of tobacco

  • Obesity

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Unhealthy eating habits

  • Genetic make-up

  • Family history

  • Exposure to excessive pollution

  • High blood pressure

  • High blood sugar

  • Sleep disorders
Although, one cannot do anything about the risk factors like family history and genetic make-up, it is possible to deal with many of the other risk factors by bringing about healthy changes in lifestyle. Most of the above mentioned risk factors causing cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

What are various treatment options for cardiovascular diseases?

The treatment for cardiovascular diseases is decided based on the condition that a patient is facing. The treatments may involve dealing with the blockages, stabilizing the rhythm of the heart or ensuring improved blood flow by widening arteries.

Other treatment options include:
  • Lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, having a healthy diet, quitting alcohol and smoking etc.

  • Surgeries like coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

  • Medications

  • Cardiac rehabilitation that involve exercise and counselling.

  • Magnesium therapy which is recommended to the patients with ventricular arrhythmia and digoxin intoxication-induced arrhythmias.
With early intervention, cardiovascular diseases can be managed effectively. The key to prevent and deal with such diseases is to follow a healthy lifestyle.

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Saira.9 years ago
why do women get irritated and go through depression during the phase of menopause?
Shell.9 years ago
where is the article?
Kate.9 years ago
having come off hrt after 10 years i have started hot flushes again. any advice?
Jane Doe.9 years ago
menopause in itself has its purpose which i assume is to prevent an older woman from having children and not living long enough to care for the child. apparently our bodies have not yet evolved to catch up with the longer life is my opinion that the side effects of menopause are a freak of nature and that if this were to happen to the male population, every government would spend millions in research to prevent the devasting effects --some of which are never even discussed and no one knows exists until it happens. hair, skin, nails, and particulary changes not only of the vaginal area, but of the vulva as well. if the males sexual organs were to shrivel up by the age of 50, i repeat, there would be a world wide panic for prevention.
t.9 years ago
im 16 and get hot flushes daily and sometimes they last all day. am i going through menopause?
june roberts.9 years ago
needs more info on herbal remadies
Caroline.9 years ago
having just discontinued hrt, i am experiencing constant hot flushes. as i am visiting a sars affected region soon, if they taked my temperature when i am experiencing a hot flush (which is exactly like a rigor), will i be whisked away and confined to quarters until it becomes obvious that i don't have sars?
Question on Clomid.9 years ago
i am taking clomid fertility drug for 3 / 4 months now and have sweating most nights - is this a side effect of clomid or might it be menopause. i am 40.
Janet.9 years ago
in reply to "t" -
although not impossible, it would be extremely unlikely that you would be going through menopause at your age. there are other conditions that can cause excessive sweating. i suggest that you hav a word with your doctor, if only to put your mind at rest. all the best to you.
wendy.9 years ago
i also have stopped hrt after 10yearsand have started hot flushes again.i am going to try and stick it out without going back on hrt.just hope it does'nt last to long .
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