Related Topics: Features, Heart Disease, Hormones

Progesterone and Protection from Menopausal Heart Problems

Heart attacks are far more common during and after menopause and are the greatest single cause of death in this age group so how can women protect themselves?

Dame Dr Shirley Bond

The Heart Risk Difference Between Men and Women

HRT is often suggested as being protective against heart disease, because of the oestrogen component but declining levels of oestrogen do not tell the whole story.   Men and women do not necessarily have the same type of heart disease. Men tend to suffer from heart attacks because their coronary arteries become blocked and narrowed due to a variety of factors of which high levels of cholesterol in he diet is an important one.  Over the years, the lumen on the artery can become so narrowed with deposits that not enough blood can pass to the heart muscle and a heart attack occurs.

There will often have been warnings that this may happen.  When a man exercises, the heart needs more blood; there will be a time when there is enough blood going through when resting but not when exercising.  The result will be the man will experience pain when exercising, and if sensible will pay attention to it.

In post-menopausal women however, although we can have narrowing of the arteries and a build-up of deposits, it is much more common for the cause of the hart attack to be spasm of the coronary arteries.  For this type of hear disease – which affects the majority of women – then oestrogen in the form of HRT will not protect you.  Research has been done which suggests that HRT may in fact aggravate coronary artery spasm, where bioidentical natural progesterone will relieve it.   If your heart disease is not due to spasm, like the majority of women, but to narrowing of the arteries then oestrogen has been shown to have an effect in preventing the build up of  deposits and paying attention to lowering cholesterol levels is also important.

Summary:

Research over fifteen years ago showed that progesterone is effective in relaxing coronary arteries which have gone into spasm, and that excess oestrogen can in fact cause spasm.  As most menopausal women’s heart attacks are due to heart spasm this is obviously an important factor in demonstrating the protective role of progesterone in preventing potentially fatal heart attacks.

There are many more factors involved in being prone to a heart attack than a lack of oestrogen.  Factors that predispose us to heart attacks include weight problems, having high cholesterol levels and lack of exercise as well as increasing age itself so paying attention to maintaining all-round good health is the first step in minimizing any potential heart attack risk

You may also be interested in reading the following article:

http://www.bio-hormone-health.com/2010/07/22/early-menopause-can-double-heart-attack-risk/

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