menopause, heart health, womens health, keeping your heart healthy, signs & symptoms, prevention, northwest arkansasMaintaining good heart health during menopause is of the utmost importance. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Once women reach the age of 50, about the age of natural menopause, their risk for heart disease increases dramatically. After age 50, nearly half of all deaths in women are due to some form of cardiovascular disease. Want to learn more about keeping your heart healthy during menopause? Keep reading. 

Risk Factors for Heart Health During Menopause

Women who have gone through menopause are at even greater risk if they also have any of these health and lifestyle conditions:

  • Family history, such as a father or brother who had a heart attack before age 55, a mother or sister who had a heart attack before age 65
  • Black ethnicity
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Waistline more than 35 inches (88 cm)
  • Diabetes
  • Premature menopause, especially before age 35
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • History of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or pregnancy-induced hypertension

How to Reduce Your Risk

A healthy lifestyle goes a long way in preventing heart disease in women. Incorporating the following tips into your everyday life reduces your risk of heart disease during and after menopause.

  • Avoid or quit smoking. Smokers have twice (or higher) the risk of heart attack than nonsmokers. In addition to eliminating cigarettes, stay away from secondhand smoke, as it also increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Maintain healthy body weight. The more you are over your ideal weight, the harder your heart has to work to give your body nutrients. Research has shown that being overweight contributes to heart disease. The more you are over your ideal weight, the harder your heart has to work to give your body nutrients.
  • The heart is a muscle that needs to be worked to keep it strong and healthy. Being active or exercising regularly (ideally, at least 150 minutes total each week) helps improve how well the heart pumps blood through your body. It helps lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces stress, helps keep weight off, and improves blood sugar levels. Activity and exercise also help reduce many other risk factors. Check with your doctor if you have been inactive before increasing your activity level.
  • Eat well. Follow a diet low in saturated fat; low in trans fat (partially hydrogenated fats); and high in fiber, whole grains, legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, vegetables, fish, folate-rich foods, and soy.
  • Treat and control medical conditions. Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure make you more likely to have heart disease.

When To Consult a Doctor

If you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, it is time to seek professional help:

  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, and chest discomfort (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in your legs or arms
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back

Heart disease is easier to treat when detected early, so talk to your doctor about your concerns regarding your heart health. If you’re concerned about developing heart disease, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. It is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease.

Keeping Your Heart Healthy During Menopause

Do you have questions about keeping your heart healthy during menopause? Our staff is ready to answer your questions. Schedule an appointment with one of our physicians at 479.582.9268 or visit our website.