Going on from how alcohol affects perimenopausal symptoms, in this month’s blog I’ll look at how the loss, or slow decline, of oestrogen production influences heart health. I will also touch on how lifestyle choices make a bigger impact on heart function and general health.

Love it or hate it, oestrogen provides women with many health protecting functions! Though some may have dreaded ‘that time of the month’, due to inconvenience or, because it may have caused you a lot of pain – turning your world upside down for a few days.

Oestrogen and Heart Health

Oestrogen offers women several cardioprotective qualities, which seem to be greatly reduced once you enter menopause. There is still no clear picture as to how oestrogen does this. But there is increased incidence of:

  • high blood pressure
  • irregular heart rate
  • strokes
  • heart attack
  • atherosclerosis
  • fluid retention

 

It is thought that oestrogen can inhibit spasming of the blood vessels, which some of you may experience during different times of your menstrual cycle – it may experience a little dizziness, headache, weakness or numbness in your face, arm or legs.

It may support the production of Nitric Oxide and, block calcium electrical function in the heart. This helps to keep your blood vessels dilated, allowing your oxygenated blood to circulate throughout your body, keeping blood pressure within normal parameters; as well as, preventing the heart muscles from getting ‘over excited’ and spasming. This also helps to prevent, or reduce, the onset of having a fast heart rate – tachycardia or palpitations; by also delaying the effect that potassium has on the electrical activity of your heat.

Some of the changes to your heart health may also be due to, reduced Sex Hormone Binding Globulin which occurs with reduced levels of oestrogen. This also has a role to play with insulin and glucose function.

 

Other Things to consider

Cardiovascular health is also dependant on your lifestyle choices , that is:

  • diet
  • exercise
  • alcohol
  • smoking
  • Quality and quantity of sleep

Other things that can predispose you to develop cardiovascular issues are:

  • being overweight
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Waist circumference
  • High cholesterol – LDL, Triglycerides
  • Body mass index
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Family history CVD

All these things place a major strain and, stress, on your body. Which if left unchecked, go on to cause inflammation and over activation of other physiological processes, such as glucose and insulin production. This could then lead you on to develop a fatty liver or have gallbladder issues.

How to love your Heart

You can help to reduce the incidence of these things from happening to you! As, the predisposing factors can begin to manifest in you, whether you are starting to enter menopause or not!

I feel that prevention is better than the cure, so no matter where you are in life, there are many things that you can do to lovingly protect your heart. I can support you with such changes, which will include:

  • Cut out all packaged and processed foods – to reduce transfats, excess salt, sugar and many harsh preservatives/artificial colourings, etc which is no good to anyone.
  • Cut out, or greatly reduce fast food intake – maybe have it as an occasional treat.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables from all colours of the rainbow, to get all the wonderful vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients which all play together in perfect harmony!
  • Increase oily fish intake to 3 times per week, you all know why.
  • Add nuts and seeds to daily food intake, mix these in salads or in a trail mix – get all the wonderful minerals, essential fatty acids and some vitamins.
  • Add more fibre, up to 30g per day, to help eliminate toxins and excess fats that your body will not use.
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week, 30-60min depending on the intensity of the activity. Doing High Intense Intermittent Training (HIIT) is best, as it helps to build muscle mass, which burns more energy.
  • Get some sunshine, as Vitamin D does more than just help with the health and strength of your bones. It helps to support your – immune system, glucose/insulin function, emotional status, skin health and integrity.
  • Water – yep, you said it, at least 2L to help flush out unwanted toxins and keeping your body well hydrated!

Everything is interconnected! So, if you start to fix one part of your life and health, it will naturally flow onto and into, other parts of your health and wellbeing. As always, if you are experiencing any symptoms or are concerned, please see you local GP.

 

References

www.menopause.org.au/hp/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=832:menopause-treatment-options&catid=199:management&Itemid=200508

www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/bone-health-and-heart-health/keeping-your-heart-healthy-at-menopause

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