It’s a well known fact that when women go through menopause their risk for heart disease increases. The loss of estrogen postmenopause increases a woman’s risk for high blood pressure, increases LDL (“Lousy” or bad) cholesterol levels, decreases HDL (“Healthy” or good) cholesterol levels, and increases the risk for weight gain (especially around the abdominal area). This clustering of heart disease risk factors makes the incidence of heart attacks more common in post menopausal women.
A new study called the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study (LAAS) headed by Dr. C. Noel Baiery Merz suggests that if women transition through menopause quickly (within three years go from premenopausal to postmenopausal) their risk for developing premature heart disease is even greater. This was a small observational study but these results further support the need for a comprehensive heart disease risk factor evaluation in younger premenopausal women. We know that 80% of heart attacks are preventable by optimizing risk factors. In order to prevent the development of heart disease women need to learn their individual risk factors and try to optimize their numbers when they are young – before they start to experience menopausal symptoms.