Focus on Women

Spotlight On Women’s Health: Keep Your Heart Healthy During Menopause and Beyond

Middle aged woman smiling and with hands over her heart.

Most women enter perimenopause in their 40s and advance to full menopause sometime in their 50s, which is marked by a full year of no menstrual cycles. This period of hormonal changes can last for a decade until menstruation finally stops. Often women experience symptoms like insomnia, hot flashes and mood swings, which can significantly impact daily life. A more critical but quieter health issue that can come with menopause and post-menopause is heart disease.

Heart Disease Kills Women

For women over 65 in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death. But it’s also the second-leading cause of death among women ages 45–64. Studies have not proven conclusively whether the loss of estrogen during these years contributes to this risk, but women seeking care for symptoms related to menopause also need to be on the lookout for signs that something could be going wrong with their heart.

Warning Signs of Heart Disease in Women

Minor heart palpitations are not uncommon during hot flashes. But they could also be a warning sign that something is wrong with your heart. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Pain in your arm, neck or upper stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual and excessive sweating

If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 911. Otherwise make an appointment with your [primary care] provider today.

How to Prevent Heart Disease

If you are still smoking, it’s time to quit. Cut back or completely stop alcohol consumption to no more than one serving of alcohol per day. Increase your cardiovascular exercise. Lose weight and eat a balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich whole foods.

Of course, changing habits you’ve had for 40 or 50 years can be a challenge. That’s why the providers at Augusta University Health are here for you. Whether you need estrogen replacement therapy, help with your high blood pressure, or figuring out how to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes that stick, our providers have the experience to know what treatments will work best for you.

With age comes wisdom, right? Do the smart thing and invest in your heart health today.

Spotlight on Women’s Health: Women’s health care involves diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the female reproductive system, which includes the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Learn more here.

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About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.