Are you experiencing hot flashes? You’re not alone. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Menopause is not a disease, but part of a woman’s normal phase of life. During menopause, there is a decline in the natural hormone estrogen, which may be one of the main factors in the increase of heart disease in post-menopausal women.
Estrogen has a positive effect on the arteries by maintaining flexibility of arterial walls, which helps relaxation and accommodation of blood flow. According to the Office on Women’s Health, three out of four women experience hot flashes. It’s a part of the hormonal roller coaster that comes with the end of a woman’s childbearing years. Hot flashes are a sudden sensation of heat in the chest, face and head. You may see red blotches on your skin, experience heavy sweating or cold chills.
Menopause does not cause cardiovascular disease. However, risk factors increase around the time of menopause and other unhealthy habits can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.
“Women who experience steady symptoms of hot flashes should be assessed. Several factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, lipid levels and blood sugar should be checked regularly. These are the factors that affect the risk of developing heart disease,” says Barbara Hubbell, nurse practitioner of cardiology at Ochsner Health. A study has found that menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The study focused on menopausal women in their 40s and 50s and evaluated them for 20 years. Factors such as race, ethnicity, smoking habits, age and weight are factors that could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease from 50 to 80 percent.
Staying on top of tactics to protect against heart attacks or strokes, could make all the difference. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for American women, according to Women’s Health. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein can help your heart stay healthy and reduce your risk. Regular exercise or physical activity are also known to lower your risk for heart disease and improve your mental well-being. Misconceptions around heart disease have been around for decades, and believing them could put your health at risk. Stay educated on your body and be sure to do your research.
Approximately every 30 seconds an American has a heart attack. Heart disease must be diagnosed by a physician, which is why it’s important to get your numbers checked regularly. If you are going through menopause and experiencing consistent hot flashes, see your doctor.