The risk of heart disease in women goes up with age. It’s the leading cause of death in women over age 40, especially after menopause.
Each year, more than 400,000 U.S. women die of heart disease. This translates to approximately one death every minute.
Why Is Heart Disease Associated With Menopause?
Menopause is a normal stage in a woman's life. It’s the changes a woman feels either before or after she stops having her period. It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
The loss of natural estrogen as women get older may play a part in the higher risks of heart disease seen after menopause. Other things that may lead to risks of heart disease then include:
Increases in fibrinogen levels. That’s a substance in the blood that helps the blood clot. An increase makes it more likely for blood clots to form. A clot in the heart can cause a heart attack, and one in the brain can cause a stroke.
How Can Women Reduce Their Risk?
Women with the lowest risk of heart disease are those who:
- Don’t smoke or quit smoking
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight
- Exercise for more than 30 minutes three or more times per week
- Eat foods low in saturated fat and trans fat and high in fiber, like whole grains, legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, vegetables, and fish
- Treat and control conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
Can Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Reduce the Risk?
If you have concerns, talk to your doctor about them.