Lisa Snowdon details the symptoms of her early menopause
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When a woman’s body goes through the natural transition, the hormone oestrogen dips, and periods can become erratic. With these lowered oestrogen levels, two serious health conditions risks are increased.
Lower oestrogen levels can increase the risk of heart disease as well as osteoporosis.
Oestrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss.
This is why the chance of developing osteoporosis increases as women reach menopause.
When oestrogen levels decline, levels of LDL cholesterol (the harmful kind) increase, and levels of HDL cholesterol (the positive kind) decrease, leading to the build-up of fat and cholesterol in the arteries that contributes to heart attack and stroke.
Scientists are still learning about the actions of oestrogen in the body.
Studies have shown that oestrogen affects almost every tissue or organ system, including the heart and blood vessels.
Oestrogen’s known effects on the cardiovascular system include a mix of positive and negative.
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Women seem to have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and are less likely to die from it, up until menopause.
From that point on, the risk for CVD and heart attack rises dramatically.
One large study such as the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) showed that during menopause the transition showed significant changes to cardiovascular health.
Some of these changes included:
HDL cholesterol decreases and LDL cholesterol rises
Blood lipids increase
Blood vessels change, making it more likely for plaque and blood clots to form
A protein found in blood plasma called fibrinogen, which is linked with heart disease stroke, increases.
Diet to reduce risk
Reducing saturated fats and salt in your diet you can help to keep your blood pressure lower, and by eating calcium-rich foods like leafy greens, milk and low-fat yoghurts, you can help maintain stronger bones, advised Cheryl Lythgoe, Matron at not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health.
She added: “In addition, Vitamin D from oily fish and eggs improves bone health too.
“Minimising alcohol, processed sugar and caffeine can also help to improve heart health and reduce the likelihood of low mood or mood swings, which can be difficult to cope with.”
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