Heart disease is the leading cause of death in post-menopausal women. Studies have shown that a woman’s risk of heart disease is much less than a man’s — presumably because she has naturally protective levels of the hormone estrogen. With menopause, however, her estrogen production decreases. This increases a woman’s risk of heart disease by two - three times.
Cholesterol and special proteins combine to form “lipoproteins” which are found in the blood stream. These include LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol). Before menopause, most women have higher levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol than men. Post-menopause however, the levels of the “bad” LDL cholesterol tend to rise and "good" HDL levels may decline. In women, lowering levels of HDL are thought to be a greater risk factor to predict heart disease.
Based on this, it is important to have preventative medical screening tests including cholesterol blood tests, usually ordered by your primary care provider. By maintaining a low cholesterol diet, performing regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, by careful monitoring and diligent care to take medications as prescribed, you can lower your chance of developing heart disease.
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