Updated: Aug 3
Approximately one out of three adult woman have some form of heart disease. Increase in heart disease seems to begin 10 years after menopause.
However, the relationship between hormones and heart disease is complex. Women typically develop heart disease several years after men, with strong protective role of estrogen. This led scientists to initially recommend hormone replacement therapy to women after menopause. However, we changed our way of thinking after large study called Women’s health initiative showed conflicting data. We now believe hormone replacement therapy after menopause ( especially 10 years after menopause), can significantly increase risk of heart and blood vessel disease, as well as cancer. Moreover, a large study done at Framingham, Massachusetts showed that high cholesterol, blood pressure and other traditional risk factors (independent of smoking status), were associated with earlier menopause. This may indicate that poorer heart health prior to menopause may accelerate menopause.
Most experts now a days believe the following:
Menopause is not a disease, it is a natural transition in a woman’s life cycle.
Menopause does not cause heart disease, but unhealthy habits can.
Hormone replacement therapy is controversial and may actually be harmful >10 years after menopause.
To prevent heart disease at any age focus on the following:
1- staying active
2-maintaining ideal body weight
3- eating healthy
4- keeping cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar under control