Post-menopause women at greater risk of heart attacks

Menopause could be the riskiest phase in a woman’s life, according to recent research.

Women who attain menopause before the age of 46 are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks, a study by the University of Alabama has found.

Another US study pegs women with early menopause at high risk for brain hemorrhage and yet another group of scientists has found that these women have higher chances of developing aggressive rheumatoid arthritis, a painful auto-immune joint disease.

With hormone therapy using estrogen no longer an option given the cancer risks, older women here are a worried lot.

In Chennai, doctors say that post-menopausal women suffer from a vast range of problems, but they are left untreated as they prioritise their health last.

“We normally see women attaining menopause between 45 and 50 years — their reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone levels go down and the levels of menopausal hormones go up,” says Dr Nitya Ramamurthy, senior gynaecologist at Fortis Malar here.

“From the early forties itself, women start experiencing the annoying symptoms — the hot flashes and mood swings, urinary infection and dryness of vagina, and the most obvious, dry, wrinkly skin and weight gain,” says Dr Ramamurthy.

“While women do not suffer heart attacks immediately after menopause, we usually see heart problems 10 years later, at age 60. This is not a direct result of menopause, but because women stop taking care of their health at this time. They develop high blood pressure and diabetes, but do not modify their diet and exercise to control these problems,” she explains.

“All this, in addition to emotional stress, could be the reason behind heart attacks,” she says.
“Women should accept their age, but it does not mean they should continue living with these problems,” she stresses.

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