Menopause and Your Overall Heart Health: Why Timing When to Start HRT Is Key
Menopause is a transition in which your periods start becoming irregular and eventually stop. It also ushers in a number of menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, cold flushes, low libido, dry vagina, night sweats, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and many others. These menopause symptoms affect you physically, emotionally and mentally. Recent research on menopause also affects your heart. In fact changes start even before menopause officially does, much sooner than the research previously suggested. The research could further alter the way hormone replacement therapy is administered.
Heart disease is the biggest cause of death in women. As the age of women increases, they become more vulnerable to developing heart disease. Menopause raises the bar of contracting heart disease even further. The reason behind this might be the drop in oestrogen levels during menopause. Since oestrogen helps maintain the efficient functioning of the arteries, it's levels going down could cause your heart to become susceptible to various ailments.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is known to help control menopause symptoms caused by a fall in the levels of oestrogen, including heart problems. However, hormone replacement therapy has gotten a bad reputation that has still not entirely been cleared. There was research conducted on HRT that linked it to a rise in the risk of cancer and heart disease in women who opted for the treatment. The American Heart Association has warned people who have a history or are already vulnerable to heart disease to opt for another therapy instead of hormone replacement therapy.
As more research was conducted it was discovered that hormone replacement therapy did not really raise the possibility of contracting heart disease much more than women who didn't. Even after this information came out, the reception towards HRT was the same. Women were still not sure if it was safe enough, so it is still not a very popular choice among women.
Most people opt for HRT after menopause has already started. Menopause is known to begin 12 months after you've had your last period. However, research suggests that opting for HRT after menopause might render it ineffective when it comes to keeping your heart safe from various diseases.
A number of studies have been conducted on the changes that the heart goes through during perimenopause, the period before menopause when menopause symptoms start to manifest themselves. The research conducted earlier was done on mice to understand the effect of the menopause and postmenopause on their hearts. The perimenopause stage was not included in the study because it was hard to replicate. The removal of ovaries induced instant menopause, but the effects of the slow transition were lost. This all changed when a study conducted in Canada was able to imitate the perimenopausal stage. They managed to find a way for the ovaries to stop working slowly, so that the effects of perimenopause could be studied in mice.
This resulted in the mice making the transition into menopause at a much slower pace over the duration of 4 months. It was observed that their heart was relatively normal, but their stress played a role in their overall health. The changes therefore are present but just not overtly obvious. This makes it even more dangerous as it is harder to catch and you might labour under the impression that you are as healthy as can be.
The mice were injected with drugs that had the same effect on the body that oestrogen does. The studies revolved around the premise that there might be a specific duration between the different phases of menopause that might help optimize the effects of HRT.It was observed that when oestrogen was introduced to the menopausal mice, there were a number of changes observed in their most important organs including the heart of the mice during the phase of perimenopause.
When do you opt for Hormone replacement therapy?
The studies proved that when oestrogen that was introduced to the system after menopause, the damage was already underway. So the scientists concluded that it was important to start Hormone replacement therapy much earlier than once menopause symptoms arise. Most probably from perimenopause to get the best benefits for your heart.
The general attitude towards hormone replacement therapy still needs to change. It should be seen as ways to protect against various menopause symptoms wreaking havoc in your system, instead of being scared of it.
Research has been started on various aspects of menopause and the way it affects the heart. Scientists are also curious about the way oestrogen replacement therapy can help protect your heart from menopausal symptoms, and how it can be put to use without any of the side effects that people fear.
It is extremely important to get educated on the various treatments available out there, plus the different ways in which menopause symptoms affect your body and mind. This can help you decide on the best course of treatment to minimise and combat your symptoms in the most efficient way possible. You should also consult your doctor to get a professional opinion. Your doctor can clarify the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy so that you can make an informed decision. Although most people are not very comfortable in discussing their menopausal symptoms with an outsider, it is important that you confide to your doctor the problems you are facing courtesy of menopause, especially if the symptoms are severe enough to disrupt your daily life.
If your symptoms are manageable on the other hand, you might not have to opt for hormone replacement therapy at all. So you might want to keep track of your various symptoms of menopause, so that you can keep track of the intensity and frequency they occur at, and the way they change over time. This can help you make informed decisions and seek help that can help get your back on track and retain a decent level of normalcy.
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