Posted: Wed 18th Oct 2023

World Menopause Day highlights elevated heart disease risk in menopausal women

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 18th, 2023

World Menopause Day has put a spotlight on the increased risk of heart disease among menopausal women.

This year’s theme, “cardiovascular disease,” highlights a significant health concern for women as they go through this natural life transition.

Prominent personalities, all patrons of the campaign group Menopause Mandate, have joined forces with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to draw attention to the heightened risk of heart attacks and strokes faced by women during and after menopause.

Traditionally, women tend to have a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, the leading cause of heart attacks, compared to men before reaching menopause.

However, once menopause sets in, this risk undergoes a significant increase.

Research conducted by the BHF has uncovered concerning trends. Women who experience a heart attack during or after menopause are more likely to receive incorrect diagnoses and, consequently, are less likely to receive evidence-based treatments such as stents.

These misperceptions regarding women’s risk of heart disease can have serious consequences.

In response to these findings, the BHF and Menopause Mandate are urging women to use World Menopause Day as an opportunity to discuss their risk of heart disease and take proactive steps to mitigate it.

As part of the initiative, Menopause Mandate organised “A Walk in the Park” on World Menopause Day, inviting people to gather at Kensington Gardens, London.

Several Menopause Mandate Patrons, including Mariella Frostrup, Carolyn Harris, Jo Whiley, Lisa Snowdon, Michelle Griffith Robinson, Cherry Healey, Lavina Mehta, and Emma Kennedy, attended the event.

Mariella Frostrup, Chair of Menopause Mandate, expressed concern about the prevalence of heart disease in women, saying, “It is hugely concerning to learn that twice as many women die of coronary heart disease than breast cancer.”

She emphasised the importance of women being aware of their increased risk during and after menopause and taking steps to protect their hearts.

Penny Lancaster, television personality and Special Constable emphasised the significance of women’s health and the need for it to be a top priority. “A woman’s health should be one of her top priorities,” she said.

Carol Vorderman stressed the importance of women being aware of their risk of heart disease both before and after menopause.

She encouraged women to empower themselves with knowledge about how to protect their hearts and to seek help and support when needed.

Dr. Sonya Babu-Narayan, Associate Medical Director at the BHF and consultant cardiologist, highlighted the physiological changes that occur in a woman’s body during menopause, including decreased estrogen levels, which are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

She stressed the need for women to prioritise their health, especially during menopause, and offered advice on maintaining heart health through lifestyle choices.

Carolyn Hodge from Cheshire had a heart attack in November 2015 when she was going through menopause. The grandmother, who was 56 at the time, was also caring for her dad, and when she went to her GP three times complaining of chest pain, she was told she was suffering from anxiety.

After her heart attack, Carolyn said she was shocked to learn about the link between menopause and heart disease. The 62-year-old said she wants to share her story to help change the perception that heart disease is a man’s problem and to get more women to have the confidence to advocate for themselves. Carolyn said:

“I still remember how shocked I felt when, during my cardiac rehab, a cardiac nurse told me just how many menopausal women are impacted by heart disease. I couldn’t believe this wasn’t more widely known and this is why I contacted BHF about my story.

“If my story can help another person, I’m really happy to keep telling it. It’s sad that women have to speak up to be heard about heart health symptoms. I was told I had anxiety and to try and relax. None of my friends knew about the link either and now I feel a responsibility to tell everyone.”

Carolyn said her advice to other women is to be aware of your risks and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. “If you are a woman experiencing something similar to what I did, insist that you’re taken seriously when you seek medical advice.” she said.

“If it happened to me again, I’d request an ECG or ask that checks be done to see if everything was ok with my heart. I think one of the main reasons I wasn’t taken seriously was because I was a woman going through the menopause”.

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