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Many of us still have the belief that heart disease is far more of a danger to men than women. And, when we think about our hormones and the dangers of menopause, we tend to zero in on breast cancer.
However, the truth is that heart disease is hands-down the biggest danger women face.
According to goredforwomen.org, “Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease is the cause of one out of every three deaths.”
If we do the math, one American woman loses her life each minute from heart disease.
So, it’s just as important for women as it is for men, to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, talk to your doctor about your heart health and watch for signs of trouble. That should include one very important sign that researchers now know could indicate you’re at higher risk than most women…
And that’s the age that you go through menopause.
The risk of a non-fatal cardiac event
Past studies have found a clear link between early menopause (reaching menopause before the age of 50 and fatal cardiac events) and fatal cardiovascular events.
However, no one had taken a look at the relationship between early menopause and the frequency of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac events that were not fatal in women who went through early menopause.
So, researchers from The University of Queensland set out to rectify that issue…
The team gathered insights from more than 300,000 women in 15 studies around the world using a collaborative databank. And, they found that without a doubt early menopause puts women at greater risk of suffering a non-fatal cardiac event like heart attack, angina or stroke.
In fact, the results showed that women who experience premature menopause (before 40 years old) are nearly twice as likely to have a non-fatal cardiovascular event before the age of 60!
And, women who go through menopause between the ages of 40 and 44 are a whopping 40 percent more likely to suffer from a heart condition.
Yup, going through menopause early can raise your risk of heart disease by 40 percent and double your risk of a heart attack or stroke (even if it does not kill you).
Other factors that the scientists say strengthen the link between early menopause and heart disease are:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having lower education levels
In other words, if you went through menopause early and any of those categories fit you too, then you’re at even higher risk.
Protecting your heart
So, what does this mean for you?
UQ School of Public Health Ph.D. scholar Dongshan Zhu who led the study puts it this way, “Identifying women with early menopause offers a window of opportunity for their doctors to work with them to monitor and actively manage cardiovascular disease risk factors.”
Put simply, knowing you went through early menopause and the risk it causes arms you with the information you need to talk to your doctor and get help to prevent a heart attack or stroke in your future.
And, this is powerful since according to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, “80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.”
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