Menopause is a phase that every woman must go through as her age progresses. Typically occurring between 49-52 yrs of age, menopause is diagnosed after one goes without a menstrual period till 12 months; ceasing the production of hormones estrogen and progesterone.
During this biological process, many women experience following physical and emotional symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Variation in sleeping patterns
- Drastic mood variations
- Noticeable weight gain
- uncontrolled leakage of urine
HOW IS MENOPAUSE ASSOCIATED WITH THE HEART DISEASES?
It is found that Estrogen helps protect women against Heart Disease. During Menopause, as Estrogen levels drop, the level of fat in a woman’s blood can surge. These changes put a woman at risk of developing Heart and Circulatory System Disorders such as high Blood Pressure, high cholesterol, Stroke and Heart Disease.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE THE IMPACT OF SYMPTOMS?
One can certainly control the external factors such as lifestyle, habits, and behavior that impact our health. Here are some vital ones:
- Stay on top of your health.Get annual checkups, including blood pressure and cholesterol check- you may consider getting a home monitoring device. If you have existing conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, manage them early so your body can cope effectively.
- Stop smoking!Smoking is even more harmful for women than men. Women who smoke have a high a high risk Heart Disease, and they may experience symptoms of Heart Disease much sooner than women who don’t smoke. Find resources that help you quit smoking, follow your resolution and quit smoking.
- Diet and exercise.Consume a low-fat diet which will help bring down the risk of Heart Disease, and possibly add years to your life.
- Manage your stress.Stress and Depression are hard on your heart, so working on your stress and mood swings is part of a good ‘heart-healthy lifestyle’.
- Absorb from your family history.Knowing your family history, especially of Heart Disease, Diabetes, Hypertension, etc. can assistance and your physician asses your risk factors and plan your treatment accordingly.
FOOD RECOMMENDATION FOR MENOPAUSAL WOMEN:
Consuming an ideal ‘menopause diet’ can help to reduce or even avert menopause symptoms and protect you from illnesses, such Cardiovascular Disease. The earlier you make sure that these foods are a part of your diet, easier the menopause phase the years beyond;
- Calcium–Include good portions of dairy products and calcium-rich foods in your diet that include sesame seeds, soya, ragi and fortified food items like juice, cereal, etc
- Iron–Iron is found in Niger seeds, sesame seeds, garden cress seeds (halim), black raisins, and chicken liver. It is always advisable to have iron in between a meal with a vitamin c rich source like lemon juice or orange juice to enhance absorption. Avoid consumption of calcium and fibre rich food with iron rich food items together as it inhibits iron absorption.
- Fiber–Help yourself with food rich in fiber, such as raw and cooked vegetables, cut fruits (with edible peel), whole grains, nuts and seeds
- Eat fruits & vegetables–Have at least 2-3 portion of fruit and 3-4 cups of vegetables each day
- Water–Drink plenty of water or oral liquids throughout the day for best results.
(Disclaimer: The writer is Dr Hasmukh Ravat, Senior Interventional Cardiologist & Ms Minal Shah Senior Nutrition Therapist, Fortis Hospital Mulund. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)