For years we have believed that pre-menopausal women were protected from heart disease and stroke by estrogen and when estrogen levels decreased after menopause this lead to the increased risk for heart disease. A new study published in the August 2009 issue of Obesity suggests that changes in testosterone levels may play an important role. The SWAN (Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation) study examined the relation between testosterone blood levels and visceral fat in women at different stages of menopause. They found that higher testosterone levels were more likely to be associated with increased visceral fat (belly fat) than lower estrogen levels. Previous studies have reported an increased incidence of the metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) in women with higher testosterone levels.
These are early results but suggest that increased levels of male hormones (testosterone) may be contributing to the weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that occur around menopause.
“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com