Statistics show that cardiovascular diseases in adulthood affect men to a greater extent. Women under 50 years of age are much less susceptible to cardiac pathologies. However, with the onset of menopause, the incidence of heart disease among women increases. What is the reason for this? How to mitigate risks?
Female sex hormones and women’s health
Hormones are a necessary component of the human body, largely determining the nature of the processes taking place in it: from the development and work of various organs and systems to the formation of mood and the manifestation of feelings. Sex hormones not only ensure human puberty and the normal functioning of the reproductive system, but also perform other important tasks.
Female sex hormones, the most important of which are estrogens and progesterone, in addition to their direct functions, are involved in processes such as:
- lipid metabolism (maintaining normal cholesterol levels, prevent atherosclerosis);
- water-salt metabolism;
- the growth of bone tissue and ensuring its strength;
- maintaining healthy skin, mucous membranes and hair;
- the functioning of the nervous system.
Many organs (heart, brain, liver, bladder, etc.) contain receptors through which sex hormones regulate their work.
Menopause and cardiovascular health
During the period of extinction of reproductive function (menopause or menopause), changes occur in the work of all systems of the woman’s body. First of all, bones, heart and blood vessels are affected. The increase in cardiovascular diseases at this stage is explained by a gradual decrease in the production of sex hormones and a violation of the processes taking place in the body, in ensuring the normal course of which these hormones are involved.
A decrease in the amount of estrogen negatively affects cholesterol metabolism. It has been experimentally proven that during menopause, the amount of low density lipoproteins (“bad” cholesterol) increases from 10 to 16%, the level of total cholesterol increases by 6-9%, and the concentration of triglycerides (fats) – on average by 11%, which significantly increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Violation of lipid metabolism contributes to the increased growth of adipose tissue, which is one of the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes, in the presence of which cardiovascular diseases are recorded 2-5 times more often. Thus, 80% of diabetic patients suffer from arterial hypertension, 12-22% – chronic heart failure.
The cessation of menstruation in menopause promotes thickening of the blood, which creates the preconditions for increased thrombus formation.
Estrogens affect the functioning of the central and autonomic nervous systems. Due to a violation of the conduction of a nerve impulse due to a deficiency of these hormones, vascular malfunctions occur. Their spasm causes, in particular, discomfort in the region of the heart, angina pectoris. Vascular spasm also leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Disturbances in the work of the autonomic nervous system affect the rhythm of the heart, which can manifest itself in an increased heartbeat, tachycardia attacks or interruptions in the work of the heart.
Prevention of heart disease during menopause
Menopause (menopause) is a natural stage in a woman’s life. But since hormonal changes are a serious burden on the body and affects the work of all its systems, it is necessary at this time to carefully and carefully treat your health. This attitude presupposes, first of all, regular preventive examinations by a gynecologist and therapist, if necessary, seeking advice from other specialists: an endocrinologist, cardiologist, neuropathologist, psychotherapist.
It is very important to maintain the health of the heart and blood vessels in this difficult period to lead a correct lifestyle, for which it is necessary:
- rationally alternate loads and rest, do not overwork;
- sleep at least 8-9 hours, do not stay up late;
- pay attention to feasible physical activity, in no case overloading yourself;
- it can be walking or cycling, swimming, dancing, gardening, light morning exercises;
- spend as much time as possible in the fresh air (optimally – 2 hours a day);
- give up bad habits: smoking, alcohol abuse, coffee, energy drinks;
- avoid stress.
Prevention of diseases of the cardiovascular system involves adherence to certain dietary rules. From the diet during this period, it is better to exclude or significantly limit fatty, fried, salty foods, the so-called fast carbohydrates (rich pastries and sweets), ready-made store food.
Preference should be given to low-calorie foods rich in fiber, vitamins, macro- and microelements (vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals). Fish (especially fatty varieties), seafood and vegetable oils (except palm) are very useful for the heart. The diet must include proteins. It can be lean meats and poultry, rabbit, fish, nuts, seeds, milk, eggs. Meals should be complete, balanced, regular, but without overeating.
During menopause, a woman’s body also needs an increased amount of vitamins. To protect the heart, any multivitamin preparations containing vitamins A, C, B, E, D and other components are suitable. They have a beneficial effect on the state of the heart and blood vessels, increase the adaptive capabilities of the body. Most effective at the beginning of menopause.