Menopause is when your body has its final period and usually happens between the ages of 45 to 55. Your hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone, go up and down and can cause sleep problems, headaches and more.
Some women will also experience perimenopause, which is the stage of life before your last period, and you can also experience menopause symptoms during this time.
The changes in oestrogen during perimenopause and menopause can also impact your cholesterol levels. When menopause hits, your oestrogen levels naturally fall, and your risk of heart disease can increase.
The drop means that your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or ‘bad’ cholesterol can rise, and your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or ‘good’ cholesterol can fall.
Professor Garry Jennings, Chief Medical Adviser at the Australian Heart Foundation, says that your hormone levels aren’t the only thing that affects your heart health when you’re in the age range or experiencing menopause.
Blood vessels can become less flexible and prone to plaque build-up.
“Together, these changes can lead to high blood pressure and sometimes high blood sugar (glucose) levels, which are important risk factors for heart disease,” he explained to Jean Hailes.
However, there are a few ways that you can maintain your heart health while experiencing menopause, including:
- Talk about your heart health. Visit your Pharmacist or your GP and develop a plan regarding your heart health.
- Look after your mental health. As anxiety and depression are risk factors for heart disease, it’s essential to look after your mental health as well as your physical health.
- Follow a heart-healthy eating pattern. This includes incorporating healthy fats, omega-3s and less saturated fats in your diet.
It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional, including your doctor or your Pharmacist, about how menopause impacts your body and heart health, as well as understand your personal risk level of cardiovascular disease and more.