Steps Every Menopausal Woman Should Take to Protect Her Heart

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Approximately 35,000 women in the United States have a heart attack each year. However, there is an increase in the number of heart attacks that strike women in the decade after menopause. Even if menopause doesn't cause cardiovascular disease, it does mark a time when certain risk factors increase. So, what can you do to boost your cardiovascular health?

Mediterranean diet

A Spanish study significantly showed that eating a Mediterranean diet can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, the findings of this study were so marked the researchers ended the study early. The researchers found that people who ate the Mediterranean diet were as much as 30 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than participants who were assigned to the general low-fat diet.

Watch salt use

A 2012 study out of the University California San Francisco used computer simulations to estimate the benefit of reductions in dietary sodium. Using three different models, researchers found the gradual reduction of sodium over a decade would save up to 500,000 people.

Physical activity

If you need to lose weight, try to get one hour a day. Try to do aerobic exercises, such as walking, cycling, dancing or swimming.

Stop smoking

While both men and women should stop smoking at any age, it's especially important for post-menopausal women to consider smoking cessation. Smoking may actually contribute to early menopause, increase the risk of blood clots, decrease the flexibility of arteries and lower the levels of HDL cholesterol.

Hormone therapy

While the American Heart Association recommends against using postmenopausal hormone therapy, a 2012 study in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare suggests women who take HRT for 10 years following menopause have a significantly reduced risk of mortality, heart failure and heart attack without any increased risk of cancer, DVT or stroke.