In the period up to menopause, the risk of developing heart disease in women is significantly less than in men. While screening for genetic risk factors for familial heart disease, we question whether there is a history of cardiovascular disease among first-degree relatives before the age of 55 in men and before the age of 65 in women. Even the reason for this age difference is the postponement of the age of risk compared to men, as women are under natural protection with the hormone estrogen in terms of cardiovascular disease until they reach menopause.
How does estrogen protect the heart?
Estrogen hormone increases blood flow in the heart vessels, has positive effects on cholesterol, increases good cholesterol and decreases bad cholesterol, and also helps to keep blood pressure low. There is no single mechanism of action to explain these benefits. It provides this with many different, complex and still unsolved mechanisms at the cellular level.
Does going through menopause increase the risk of heart attack?
Menopause means that women no longer have eggs to produce estrogen. In other words, it is a period when reproduction ends and the menstrual cycle stops. When estrogen production ends, it means that the protective effect on the heart will also be over. It is the natural menopause period of women around the age of 50. There may be women who go into menopause earlier due to genetic reasons and surgical means. Menopause itself does not increase the risk of heart attack; However, additional risks such as unhealthy diet, smoking and hypertension increase the risk of heart attack. In fact, the important point is the increased risk in young women with early menopause.
Is going through menopause at an early age dangerous for the heart?
Regardless of risk factors known to everyone, such as hypertension, diabetes, and smoking, women who enter menopause at an early age have a 2-fold increase in the risk of heart attack. Early menopause means entering menopause at the age of 40 or earlier. In fact, the most critical point to balance the increased risk is a healthy lifestyle. The risk increase may not be observed in women who pay attention to their nutrition, stay fit, exercise and do not smoke.
Do hormone replacement therapies taken during menopause reduce the risk of heart attack?
While there are discussions about giving estrogen hormone replacement therapy to protect women from the natural menopause age, that is, around the age of 50, from the risk of heart attack, there is no discussion of giving hormone therapy to protect heart health and bone health in women who enter menopause at an early age. In other words, giving hormone replacement therapy to women who enter menopause at an early age to replace their estrogen, which decreases at an early age, reduces the risk of heart attack.