Just when you thought menopause was a little bit under control – you learn about heart disease. I mean…really? First it’s the memory starting to give, and then it’s the warm flushes of heat (power surges, if you will), night sweats, vaginal dryness, moodiness, irritation, and insomnia. Finally you hear about heart disease.
Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States? It’s also responsible for about half of all deaths in women over 50 years old. I know sometimes you might think the hotflashes are trying to kill you, but checking your cardiovascular markers is very important.
During peri-menopause (just before your periods stop) and actual menopause (when your periods stop for at least 12 months), your hormones go semi-crazy. Progesterone dips low and estrogen goes through some wild swings before settling out below normal. This does all sorts of things to your waist (increased) blood sugar (increased), cholesterol (increased), blood pressure (increased), metabolism (decreased), thyroid function (decreased), adrenal function (decreased), and finally, your last nerve (decreased).
Make sure your healthcare provider is checking your cholesterol, fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin. Have a complete thyroid panel assessed that includes: TSH, Free T4, and Free T3. You can read my article on sub-clinical hypothyroidism if you are symptomatic but everything is “normal.” Get a hormone test that examines estradiol, progesterone, DHEA-S, and free and total testosterone. Order a salivary cortisol test to look at your adrenals throughout the day to see your state of stress and natural circadian rhythm.
What do you do? Seek a healthcare provider that is proficient in hormone balance, menopause and heart disease. You might love your ob/gyn however if they aren’t up to date on the latest, you may need to step outside the box and find someone more experienced with hormones. Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D3 (check for levels between 50-100 ng/dl) and eat 20-30 grams of fiber each day.
Get your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar under control.