With all the snow around the United States, it seems like a burst of color would be so welcome. And we’re in luck! Friday, Feb. 4 is National Wear Read Day®, which is designed as a way for Americans to show their support for women’s heart disease awareness.
Friday also would be a good day to really think about your own ticker. As we enter middle age and start into perimenopause, women may increasingly experience issues with the heart. “There is nothing you can do about genetics: if heart problems are sprouting everywhere on your family tree, you can’t just pull out a giant eraser. You can’t stop the clock and not get any older,” Barbara Seaman and Laura Eldridge note in The No-Nonsense Guide to Menopause. “There are many choices you can make every day, though, that can have a giant impact on your chances of having heart problems. In fact, the biggest risk factors are things that you have control over: smoking, eating too much salt and animal fat, gaining weight, and not exercising.”
If you’re at risk for a heart attack, you need to address all of these factors. According to The Heart Truth® website, “Some women believe that doing just one healthy thing will take care of all their heart disease risk. For example, they may think that if they walk or swim regularly, they can still smoke and stay fairly healthy. This is wrong. To protect your heart, it is vital to make changes that address each risk factor you have.”
Some interesting findings that I’ve discovered in the literature in relation to perimenopausal and menopausal women include:
- Heart palpitations “can be manifestations of symptoms (such as hot flashes) in the autonomic system (the nerves and muscles that cause the blood vessels to constrict or dilate) but any heart symptom needs to be checked out by a doctor before being attributed to menopause,” writes Dr. Holly Thacker in the book, The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause.
- A regular aspirin has been shown to help postmenopausal women prevent heart attacks, according to Seaman and Eldridge.
- “Having your ovaries removed and other kinds of gynecological surgeries that can cause early or medical menopause can raise your risk for heart problems,” Seaman and Eldridge wrote. “This is probably because the ovaries continue to produce heart-protective hormones into and after the menopause transition.”
- After looking at the evidence from the Women’s Health Initiative which suggests controversy about taking estrogen and the heart, Seaman and Eldridge said, “We would say that until more evidence is available, women shouldn’t consider taking hormones for the heart, regardless of their age.” Thacker also agreed, but added, “Stay tuned for further research into the potential vascular benefit of estrogen in recently menopausal women with normal arteries, as estrogen may well be cardio-protective for this group of women.”
So resolve to give your heart a little love tomorrow by wearing red. And then join me in taking the appropriate steps to protect your heart in the days and months to come.
Published On: February 03, 2011