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What Does Heart Health Have to Do With Menopause?

Cardiovascular disease is rated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a leading cause of mortality around the world. What is not as often discussed is the important connection between menopause and cardiovascular health.

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If you are currently experiencing, or may soon experience, menopause, this information will help you be aware of the realities of heart health and equip you to mitigate your risk of experiencing heart problems.

Cardiovascular Risks Associated with Menopause

Menopause itself does not cause heart disease. However, an increase in cardiovascular risk has been observed in those that experience menopause. Because cardiovascular disease is such a widespread public health concern, hundreds of studies have been conducted on its effects and severeness amongst different demographics. Those who are experiencing or are likely to experience menopause should educate themselves about the particulars of cardiovascular conditions and make sure they are taking proactive steps to avoid them.

How to Notice Cardiovascular Symptoms

Heart diseases can reveal themselves with a number of different symptoms. Though this is not an exhaustive list, signs of heart disease commonly include instances of the following: chest pain; pain, numbness, or weakness in legs and/or arms; an abnormal heartbeat (e.g. faster or slower than normal) or experiencing palpitations; breathlessness; feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint; general fatigue; or swollen limbs.

Experiencing any of these symptoms is reason enough to pay attention to your body and monitor yourself more closely. If you experience more than one of the states in this list, contact a medical health professional immediately.

How to Take Action

If you or someone you know (especially if they are a female of menopausal age) experiences any of those common symptoms above, the best course of action is to seek expert help. Medical professionals have well-developed systems in place for helping you create a disease management program, especially for common threats like cardiovascular disease.

If you have not yet experienced any signs of possible heart disease but are menopausal, now is the time to proactively take steps to lower your risk of experiencing cardiovascular conditions in the future.

The first step you can take is to assess your risk factors. Cardiovascular disease can be prompted or expedited by a few different habits or lifestyle elements. These include smoking regularly, consuming a sugary or highly processed diet, obesity, and lack of regular physical exercise. If you have questions about any of these risk factors, reach out to a medical professional. They can explain further and help you judge whether your current lifestyle contains any of these inherent risk factors.

The second step you can implement once you’ve identified any risk factors in your life from the list above is to create an improvement plan. This involves changing your habits and lifestyle to reduce your risk over time. If these changes seem daunting, don’t worry about creating massive shifts all at once. Work in three-month or six-month increments, making subtle changes to your diet, physical fitness, and lifestyle. Moving gradually towards higher levels of health and fitness can be easily implementable and make a substantial difference over time.

The third step you can put in place is to design a strategy or protocol to be used in the event that you ever experience a cardiovascular episode. This should include identifying multiple points of contact, including friends or family members, who would likely be available and close by in an event of an emergency, letting them know you’d like to identify them as a person to be contacted in case of any problems. It’s advisable to print a card with their phone numbers to keep with you or on your person, or shortcut their contact information on your mobile phone.

You might also include your preferred hospital, your doctor’s contact phone number, or your insurance information. Compile any personal medical history that would be pertinent and put it in an easy-to-find place in your home or online. Share its location with family and your emergency contacts. Installing an emergency contact button or phone in your home or carrying a medical alert device can be an extra step of precaution.

Cardiovascular conditions can be serious and even mortal. If you are experiencing (or are soon to experience) menopause, it is vitally important to take stock of your cardiovascular health and be proactive in improving it. This can dramatically reduce your risk of experiencing heart problems down the line.

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