5 Signs Your Heart Is Changing During Menopause

Each year, more than one million women in the United States enter menopause — when a woman stops menstruating and hasn’t had a period for 12 months straight. When you think of menopause, you may think of hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, and night sweats. But heart disease—the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths annually, according to the American Heart Association (AHA)—should also be high on your list of menopause-related health concerns.

The risk of heart disease increases with age in both men and women. “But there are risk factors for heart disease, particularly related to ovarian aging,” says Chrisandra Shufelt MD, associate director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Women’s Health in Jacksonville, Fla., which is a complex process marked by changes in hormone levels that occur, ending with menopause. Aging ovaries produce less estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone; a decline in these hormones is linked to the risk of heart disease.

Here’s a rundown of the risks associated with heart disease in menopausal women—and what you can do to reduce your risk.

When estrogen levels drop, the body goes haywire

High cholesterol

Menopause leads to detrimental changes in blood cholesterol and fat, which can lead to artery-clogging atherosclerosis.

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