Since 1924, the American Heart Association has been fighting heart disease and stroke and helping people to live longer, healthier lives. Our local AHA shares ways that you can stay healthy, get involved and help raise awareness right here in NEPA.
As women Grow and Change So Does Their Risk for Cardiovascular Disease
Medical experts note that hormone and body composition changes during the transition to menopause can increase the risk of developing heart disease after menopause.
The best defense against menopause-related changes is working with your doctor to make sure your key health numbers are in a healthy range, and understanding which healthy habits you can fine tune to boost your heart health. These tips can help:
1. Health by the numbers: Blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index should be monitored yearly. More often if your numbers are out of range. Cholesterol level is also important, and healthy numbers are more individualized based on your other risk factors. Your doctor can help you figure this one out.
2. The best way to eat: No single food is a miracle-worker for health. Instead, look at your overall pattern of eating. Experts at the American Heart Association rated 10 popular eating patterns and the DASH-style and Mediterranean-style way of eating rose to the top as having the most heart-healthy elements: high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy fat and lean protein; low in salt, sugar, alcohol and processed foods.
3. Exercise that does double-duty: Strength and resistance training is one of the four types of exercise in a general workout routine along with endurance, balance and flexibility. Strength and resistance have the added benefit of increasing bone strength and muscle mass. As women enter menopause, bone density may take a hit and body composition tends to shift to lower muscle mass. Strength training at least twice a week can help your bones and muscles maintain pre-menopause strength and density.
4. Protect your sleep time: Healthy sleep is part of the eight essential elements of heart health called Life’s Essential 8, but the transition to menopause comes with myriad interruptions to a good night’s rest – nightly restroom trips, night sweats, insomnia. Do whatever it takes to get your Z’s because better sleep has great health benefits: stronger immune system, better mood, more energy, clearer thinking and lower risk of chronic diseases. A few habit changes can improve sleep, like setting a notification or alarm to remind you it’s time to wind down, then shutting down electronic devices at that time. For stubborn sleep problems your doctor may be able to help.