As estrogen levels drop with menopause, women no longer have the same protection that estrogen gives from heart disease and high blood pressure. HDL levels drop; triglyceride levels increase. That's true whether menopause is natural or surgical. As a result, women's heart-disease risks parallel those of men— seven to ten years later in life! Their death rate is higher, perhaps due to increased age or more risk factors. In fact, heart disease (not breast cancer) is the top killer and disabler of American women; a woman is three times more likely to get cardiovascular disease than breast cancer. About two-thirds of women who die of heart disease had no previous symptoms.
The signs of heart disease for women often differ from those of men—and may go unrecognized or ignored. Women often have angina first, rather than a heart attack. A woman's symptoms may be intermittent: unexplained heartburn, profound fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, and pain that comes and goes. Treadmill stress tests for diagnosis are less reliable for women than for men, too. Also less reliable: taking a lose-dose aspirin.
Women—if you haven't done so already, make heart-healthy choices. Start with small steps, then work up. This book is full of practical advice:
• Eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, grains (including whole grains), low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, fatty fish, legumes, and other lean protein foods. Make overall choices that are low in sat-
Refer to chapter 22 for more on heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
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Are Menopause Symptoms Playing Havoc With Your Health and Relationships? Are you tired of the mood swings, dryness, hair loss and wrinkles that come with the change of life? Do you want to do something about it but are wary of taking the estrogen or antidepressants usually prescribed for menopause symptoms?