Heart Health is important for everyone but especially important for women and people in perimenopause and menopause. It is the number one cause of mortality for women in menopause and it is often overlooked because women present differently than men.
Estrogen is heart-protective for women. When it starts to decrease (or is completely gone), heart disease risk goes up. It is at this point that cholesterol starts to increase yearly, muscle mass starts to decrease and bone loss starts.
This sounds grim – and it can be – but it can also be prevented and changed.
Start to get your cholesterol checked when you turn 40. Monitor the changes and support them as needed. Check your blood pressure at least yearly and record it. The changes matter more than the actual number. (Unless that number is high). Have multiple people check your blood pressure (your MD, the drug store, your naturopathic doctor, and an at-home machine if you have one). This gives a better idea of the variation throughout your day.
Take vitamin D. This is one of the supplements that really is as magical as it seems. It will protect your heart and bones, help your mood and support your immune system. The dose depends on your levels so if you aren’t sure, get it checked.
Do weight-bearing exercises and walk. Cardio is important but weight-bearing exercises are just as important for perimenopausal and menopausal women. They will maintain muscle mass (which decreases after 35) and prevent bone loss. Not sure where to start or have specific needs? Check out group classes, and a physio who can support you, and there are a number of at-home platforms. Ask your healthcare professional if you aren’t sure where to start.
The thyroid is the organ that supports every other part of your body. As hormones decline more is required of your thyroid. If you already know that your thyroid is struggling, get more support. If you aren’t sure- get it tested.
Monitor your blood glucose. This includes a fasting blood sugar and average blood sugar (HbA1C). As hormones change blood sugar regulation is harder for the body to maintain.
The bottom line is that all of the things that have always been important are MORE important as your hormones change. Starting in your 40’s it is important to start monitoring your blood work more closely and start doing the things you have always meant to do, like exercise! Seek out a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable in these changes so that you can understand what you most important for you to do as an individual.