Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

The risk of heart problems increases with menopause. The loss of estrogen causes

  • An increase in blood pressure
  • Changes in carbohydrate metabolism and increased risk of diabetes
  • Increase in atherosclerosis (heart / vessel blockage)
  • Palpitations
  • Altered lipid metabolism leading to increased LDL (bad cholesterol), lowered HDL (good cholesterol) and increased triglycerides levels. In women, an increase in triglyceride level is seen as the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD).                                                                           An increase in total cholesterol levels even by 1%, is equally dangerous. Reversal of HDL / LDL ratios leads to formation of atheromatous plaques which then cause thrombus formation and strokes.
  • A decrease in metabolism, leading to an increase in weight which is mainly over the midriff, leading to increased cardiovascular problems

Risk factors for coronary heart disease in women

Unmodifiable Risks Modifiable Risks
1.    Family history of heart attacks or sudden death in male relative before the age of 55 years or female relative before the age of  65 years
2.    Female >55 years
3.    Premature Menopause < 40 years
4.   Blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy or delivery of an IUGR (growth restricted baby)
5.    History of bilateral oophorectomy (surgical removal of both ovaries) prior to menopause
1.    Sedentary lifestyle
2.    Obese / overweight
3.    Smoking or using any tobacco related products
4.    High blood pressure + diabetes mellitus
5.    Altered lipid profile
•    Elevated serum cholesterol levels (> 6.2 mmol/l)
•    Low plasma HDL levels (<0.9 mmol/l)
•    Raised triglycerides
6.    Excessive alcohol intake
7.    Use of oral contraceptives
8.    Metabolic syndrome
9.    Increased levels of C Reactive Protein (CRP)
10.    Stress

For more information on Cardiovascular Disease, please click here.