Why Your Heart Needs Extra Love After Menopause
You likely know that lifestyle choices like smoking and inactivity affect heart attack risk for men and women. But you may not realize that, for women, hormones also play a role when it comes to heart health.
Estrogen is your friend
Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, has a positive effect on your blood pressure and cholesterol, and both are beneficial when it comes to heart disease.
“Estrogen is a great benefit to the heart,” says Leslie Cho, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center. “The reason that women tend to develop heart disease 10 years later than men is estrogen.”
It makes sense, then, that the onset of menopause and the resulting decrease in estrogen can boost your risk of heart disease. And hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might seem like an obvious solution — but Dr. Cho urges caution.
“There’s never been a study that shows that HRT makes you live longer,” she says. “In fact, the opposite’s been shown. It increases your risk of blood clots and cancer.”
Dr. Cho recommends that at most HRT be used as a short-term treatment to deal with the unpleasant effects of menopause. Learn more.