These heart healthy tips for women approaching menopause can help keep the heart healthy despite the changes that occur as menopause arrives. Women generally start transitioning into menopause between 45-55 years of age, some sooner if they have had a hysterectomy. The changes that occur during this general time frame put women had substantial increased risk for heart problems in menopause. Implementing heart healthy tips before the woman goes into menopause is ideal.
Heart healthy tips for women approaching menopause are necessary because at age 45-55, certain changes often take place in the body, which makes a woman more susceptible to heart concerns. Hormone levels are changing, which can cause weight gain in the mid-section. When estrogen starts dropping, the body will actually increase your appetite, even up to 67% researchers say. This is because fat stores release estrogen. This is the body’s way of getting its declining estrogen back. As we grow older, the body has a tendency to redistribute weight and for many women in menopause, the extra weight goes right to the mid-section. Unfortunately, it often does not stop at just subcutaneous fat, but builds up as visceral or internal fat. Visceral fat builds up around the internal organs, including the heart. As you can imagine, this is not a good thing for your heart or the rest of you. If your waist size is 35 inches or higher, you likely have visceral fat. The good news is that hormone levels eventually level off, but if you aren’t prepared, you could have a bunch of extra visceral fat that is going to put you at higher risk for heart problems. In addition, visceral fat takes a lot more effort to get rid of.
Heart Healthy Tip #1 For Women Approaching Menopause
Prevent visceral fat around the heart and mid-section by adopting healthy eating habits before menopause. If you are too late and you already have this visceral fat, then talk to your doctor about your concern. Discuss with him/her a plan to lose this visceral fat through a good nutritious diet lifestyle change and exercise program. Visceral fat is stubborn and usually some type of aerobic exercise will be needed to burn it off. There has been some differences in studies regarding hormone replacement therapy. Some say that it may help decrease heart disease, but it can increase your risk for other diseases. Some say that it doesn’t really help that much. Talk with your doctor about the hormone replacement possibility, pros and cons.
Heart Healthy Tip #2
Another cause for heart concerns for women approaching menopause is that your body is just slowing down, which can make it easy to become more sedentary. Your heart still needs exercise. It is made out of muscle cells. To stay strong, it needs aerobic conditioning. If we are slowing down and not making an effort to keep its muscle fibers strong, then it will weaken. If you add that concern with the visceral fat around the heart, it gets a double whammy.
Even if you are not as active as you were when you were 20 and you don’t necessarily have to be, you can still exercise your heart. Research has shown even taking a fairly brisk 30 minute walk 3-4 times a week, can help tremendously with keeping your heart healthier. If you can do more, great. Invest in a treadmill if you live in a place where you can’t walk outside. There are also a ton of exercise videos out there these days, so you can pick something that works for you, especially if you have particular health concerns that you have to work around. Again, if you do have health concerns, discuss your new exercise program with your physician.
Heart Healthy Tip #3
Sometimes people can have heart issues before they even approach menopause. It would be good to have a check up around your early 40’s to get a baseline of where you are at. Due to the body’s metabolism slowing down during the menopausal age range, unhealthy lifestyle patterns will hit women harder during menopause. Any positive changes you can start before menopause will make it easier on you. So getting a physical exam with your doctor is a good place to start. Get some blood work to see where you are with your heart including cholesterol ratios. Then make sure you have a plan to keep your cholesterol down such as healthy dietary habits and an appropriate exercise routine.
Heart Healthy Tip #4
If you haven’t already, quit smoking. Heart damage caused by tobacco can often reverse itself in time if tobacco is stopped.
Heart Healthy Tip #5
Keep stress down as much as possible. Stress releases another hormone called cortisol. It often leaves in its wake, visceral fat in the mid-section. This obviously will add stress to your heart. Whatever helps with your stress management, be sure to practice it daily. Maybe it is prayer, women’s support group, meditation, exercise, listening to music, taking a walk with a friend, being positive, having enjoyable hobbies or laughing as much as possible. Find what works for you in effectively managing your stress level and get in the habit of practicing it daily.
Heart healthy tips for women approaching menopause are healthy tips for everyone, but it is even more critical for women approaching menopause. Women approaching 45-55 have such an increased risk for heart disease, that these other controllable factors can be the difference between heart disease and not. Work on improving your overall eating habits, cutting out harmful fats, sugars and calories, having a routine exercise program, not smoking, getting doctor check ups from time to time and good stress management. All these heart health tips for women approaching menopause can help to prevent heart issues from developing during this time and beyond.