With February being American Heart Health month, it’s important we discuss the importance of heart health in women and men. When a woman is going through perimenopause and menopause, her body is experiencing many different changes in her hormone levels. These changes can play a critical role in her heart health. Heart health in women and men is something that should be taken seriously. If you are having any concerns, you should consult with your physician.
Hormones and Your Heart
Your heart and hormones are directly connected. The way your hormones function in your body directly impacts your body’s cardiovascular system, your heart, and your blood vessels. If your hormones aren’t balanced or working correctly, they could negatively affect your heart in very severe ways – such as leading to major heart disease.
Your pancreas is the hormone-producing gland in your body that creates insulin. Insulin is your hormone that lets your cells receive blood glucose. If for some reason your pancreas is not making insulin correctly then there could be too much blood glucose being produced. When there is too much blood glucose in your body it can cause type 2 diabetes and a variety of cardiovascular problems that can lead to heart disease such as:
- High blood pressure: This is also referred to as hypertension and is one the most common causes of heart disease.
- High triglycerides: When you have unhealthy cholesterol levels and high triglycerides, this can cause buildup of plague in your arteries.
- High bad cholesterol: Bad cholesterol is also called low-density lipoprotein (LDL). When LDL is too high it makes it easier for your inner walls of your arteries to accumulate plague.
- Low good cholesterol: Good cholesterol is also called high-density lipoprotein (HDL). When HDL is too low it always makes it easier for plague to accumulate.
- Metabolic syndrome: Not only does this boost the risk for heart disease, but it also increases your risk for a stroke or diabetes. It is a condition that is a combination of high blood pressure, low HDL, high triglycerides, and increased abdominal fat.
For individuals using hormone replacement therapy, there is an 80% reduced risk of adult-onset type 2 diabetes. Because your hormones directly affect many areas of the cardiovascular system, it’s important to make sure your hormones are never too high. When your hormone levels are too high. they can contribute to the above cardiovascular diseases. Your daily lifestyle also plays a huge role. Other healthy ways to decrease your chances of heart disease are to:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Lower your blood sugar
- Manage your blood pressure
- Monitor your cholesterol
- Lose weight
- Regular physical activity
- Quit smoking
Concerns for Women
Women and men show different warning signs and risks for heart disease. According to Go Red for Women, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer for women and causes 1 in 3 deaths each year. Many times women don’t show the same symptoms for heart disease so it can often get overlooked. Heart attacks in women do not always show the “common” symptom of chest pain. Many women who suffer from heart attacks don’t typically notice the signs as a heart attack because they aren’t as commonly known and also don’t believe a heart attack could happen to them. The signs of heart attacks can include shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, as well as back or jaw pain. Women should also look out for feeling dizzy, fainting or being lightheaded, extreme fatigue, or pain in their lower chest or upper abdomen area. Heart attacks and heart disease can happen for any number of reasons, even if you seem completely healthy on the outside. Because of this, many women don’t know what to look for and don’t know the heart disease risk factors. Some of these risk factors include:
- Complications with pregnancy
- Family history
- Inflammatory diseases
- Stress or depression
- Not being physically active
No matter your age, you should take heart disease very seriously. The earlier you know the signs, the earlier you can get treatment and care for these conditions.
Concerns for Men
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States; it affects about 1 in every 4 males. Many times, heart disease goes undiagnosed until a man experiences signs of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. The most common way for men to know they are possibly having a heart attack is from experiencing chest pain or discomfort. Just like women, there are lifestyles and conditions that can put you at higher risk for heart disease. These include:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Not being physically active
- Unhealthy diet
To help reduce your risk of heart disease, it’s important to know the signs and potential risks. Keeping an eye on your blood pressure, getting tested for diabetes, checking your hormone levels, and eating healthy foods are all ways to stay aware and reduce your risks.
With the use of hormone therapy, The Riegel Center can help you determine which hormones your body is lacking or overproducing to help you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. We can help you find out which hormones are not balanced and then provide hormone replacement therapy. After an initial virtual consult with Dr. Riegel, will send you to get your blood drawn to determine your existing hormone levels. Once we have received your results, we will design a fully individualized treatment plan. We will perform regular check-ins and adjust your hormones as needed to make sure we are meeting your body’s needs. Virtual appointments are available which makes it easy to start your hormone replacement therapy with The Riegel Center. Visit our website today to get started.