“Before menopause, women have a lower risk of heart
disease than men. However, as women age and their
oestrogen levels fall, their risk of cardiovascular disease…”.1

Umbrella
What may the Heart Disease and Menopause Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • After Menopause
  • Before Menopause
  • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
  • Heart Conditions
  • Heart Disease/s
  • Perimenopause
  • Postmenopause

Heart Disease

What is heart disease?

DotS the definition of heart disease may vary. The (United States) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition is:

“The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack”.2

Before Menopause

Heart Disease and MenopauseHeart Disease and MenopauseIs there an association between before menopause and heart disease?

In What Is Menopause: Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause – Postmenopause: Heart Health the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) explain:

“Before menopause, women have a lower risk of heart disease than men. However, as women age and their oestrogen levels fall, their risk of cardiovascular disease increases”.3

In Menopause and Heart Disease the British Heart Foundation (BHF) note:

“Before the menopause, women in general have a lower risk of being affected by coronary heart disease. But after the menopause, your risk increases”.4

In Coronary Heart Disease: Women and Heart Disease – Why Does Coronary Heart Disease Affect Women Differently? the (United States) National Institute of Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) elaborate on:

  • “Hormone changes may affect a woman’s risk for coronary heart disease. Before menopause, the hormone estrogen provides women with some protection against heart disease. This may be because estrogen keeps the arteries flexible or because estrogen may have beneficial effects on blood lipids. As women age, though, their risk for coronary heart disease increases, and menopausal hormone therapy may further increase that risk”.5

Postmenopause

Is there an association between postmenopause and heart disease?

The JH explain:

“After menopause, risk factors for heart disease increase. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • An increase in total cholesterol
  • An increase in LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol)
  • A decrease in HDL (‘good’ cholesterol)
  • An increase in blood fats, such as triglycerides”.6

Early Menopause

Is there an association between early menopause and heart disease?

Yes. According to the NHLBI:

Heart Disease and Menopause“Women who experience early menopause, especially after a hysterectomy, are more likely to develop heart disease than women of the same age who have not yet experienced menopause”.7

Hormone Replacement Therapy Risk

Can hormone replacement therapy (HRT) reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease?

In Menopause and Your Heart: HRT: Benefit or Risk To Your Heart? the BHF note:

“There’s also evidence that HRT can reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease, or of having a heart attack and stroke. This is because it replaces hormones in your body, which can help to protect your heart. Evidence shows that HRT should be started within 10 years of starting the menopause and before the age of 60. The earlier HRT is started, the more effective it is at protecting your heart and reducing your risk of coronary heart disease”.8

Cholesterol Levels

Is there an association between some types of HRT and cholesterol levels?

In Menopause and Your Heart: HRT: Benefit or Risk To Your Heart? the BHF also note:

“It’s thought that HRT can have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels, however some types of HRT can increase your cholesterol levels. Talk to your doctor if you have high cholesterol”.9

Blood Clots and Stroke

Is there an association between HRT, blood clots and a stroke?

In Menopause and Your Heart: HRT: Benefit or Risk To Your Heart? the BHF explain:

“HRT tablets can slightly increase your risk of blood clots and a stroke, but the risk is low for women under 60. Most women are prescribed HRT through the skin (such as HRT patches). If you’re worried about this, speak to your doctor about having HRT as a patch or gel instead”.10

Heart Disease Prevention

What are the most effective ways to prevent heart disease?

In The Connection Between Menopause and Cardiovascular Disease Risks, published 20 February 2023, the author elaborates on:

“Research suggests the most effective ways to prevent heart disease include not smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, and keeping cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels under control”.11

Health Care Provider

What if I think I have heart disease or I have a family history of heart disease?

If you think you have heart disease or you have a family history of heart disease, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this.

In Heart Disease: It’s Not Just for Men – You and Your Doctor: A Heart Healthy Partnership the NHLBI also remind us:

“A crucial step in determining your risk is to see your doctor for a thorough checkup. Your doctor can be an important partner in helping you set and reach goals for heart health. But don’t wait for your doctor to mention heart disease or its risk factors. Many doctors don’t routinely bring up the subject with women patients. Here are some tips for establishing good, clear communication between you and your doctor:

  • Speak Up…
  • Keep Tabs on Treatment…
  • Be Open…
  • Keep It Simple…”.12

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics A-Z related to Heart Disease and Menopause?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. What Is Menopause? Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause – Postmenopause: Heart Health. Last Updated: 18 January 2024 | Last Reviewed: 19 August 2022. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/about-menopause Accessed: 01 February 2024
  2. Heart Disease: About Heart Disease. Last Reviewed: 15 May 2023. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm Accessed: 01 February 2024
  3. What Is Menopause? Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause – Postmenopause: Heart Health. Last Updated: 18 January 2024 | Last Reviewed: 19 August 2022. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/about-menopause Accessed: 01 February 2024
  4. Menopause and Heart Disease. British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/living-with-a-heart-condition/women-with-a-heart-condition/menopause-and-heart-disease Accessed: 01 February 2024
  5. Coronary Heart Disease: Women and Heart Disease – Why Does Coronary Heart Disease Affect Women Differently? Last Updated: 20 December 2023. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/coronary-heart-disease/women#Why-does-coronary-heart-disease-affect-women-differently? Accessed: 01 February 2024
  6. What Is Menopause? The Menopause Transition – Postmenopause: Heart Health. Last Updated: 18 January 2024 | Last Reviewed: 18 January 2024. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/about-menopause Accessed: 01 February 2024
  7. Coronary Heart Disease: Women and Heart Disease – Why Does Coronary Heart Disease Affect Women Differently? Last Updated: 20 December 2023. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/coronary-heart-disease/women#Why-does-coronary-heart-disease-affect-women-differently? Accessed: 01 February 2024
  8. Menopause and Your Heart: HRT: Benefit or Risk To Your Heart? British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/women-with-a-heart-condition/menopause-and-heart-disease Accessed: 01 February 2024
  9. Menopause and Your Heart: HRT: Benefit or Risk To Your Heart? British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/women-with-a-heart-condition/menopause-and-heart-disease Accessed: 01 February 2024
  10. Menopause and Your Heart: HRT: Benefit or Risk To Your Heart? British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/women-with-a-heart-condition/menopause-and-heart-disease Accessed: 01 February 2024
  11. Williamson, L. The Connection Between Menopause and Cardiovascular Disease Risks. 21 February 2023 https://www.heart.org/en/news/2023/02/20/the-connection-between-menopause-and-cardiovascular-disease-risks Accessed: 01 February 2024
  12. Heart Disease: It’s Not Just for Men – You and Your Doctor: A Heart Healthy Partnership. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-truth/heart-disease-not-just-men Accessed: 01 February 2024
Topic Last Updated: 07 February 2024 – Topic Last Reviewed: 01 February 2024

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