Menopause may increase risk of heart disease

August 5, 2008 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Menopause may increase risk of heart disease

As women begin menopause, their risk of developing a collection of heart disease risk factors known as metabolic syndrome appears to rise, say researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

In this new study, 949 healthy women between the ages of 42 and 52 were followed for nearly a decade to determine their risk of developing metabolic syndrome during the start of menopause.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and high blood fats (triglycerides). This syndrome is usually diagnosed when a person has three or more of these risk factors.

After ten years, nearly 14 percent of the women develop metabolic syndrome by the time they had their final menstrual period.

The risk of developing this syndrome started increasing about six years before their last menstrual period.

Researchers believe that an increase in testosterone activity may contribute to metabolic syndrome during a woman's transition into menopause.

Health experts advise women to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a low-fat diet and regular physical activity during the years leading up to their last menstrual period.

Women have a lower risk of heart disease than men before the age of 45 - but after age 55, the trend reverses, with women being at greater risk than their male peers.

Choosing lower fat milk products - like fat-free yogurt and skim milk - and limiting trans fat intake from store-bought snacks like cookies, cakes and pastries can help lower heart disease risk during menopause.

For more information about healthy eating during menopause, check out The Complete Nutrition Guide to Menopause by Leslie Beck, RD.

This study was published in the July 28, 2008 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.