Is it menopause or heart disease?
The natural process called menopause that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years, typically between the ages of 45 and 55 can be experienced as different as chalk and cheese. During this transition, hormonal changes occur that can lead to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, including hot flushes, mood swings and sleep disturbances. But there is another connection between menopause and inflammation, which can have serious consequences for women’s health.
Inflammation is a natural response of the body’s immune system to injury or infection. It is characterised by redness, swelling, heat, and pain in the affected area. However chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of health problems, including joint pain, heart disease and stroke.
As estrogen levels decline, the body’s levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) increase. CRP is a marker of inflammation that has been linked to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Additionally, the decline in estrogen levels can contribute to bone loss and joint pain, as well as an increased risk of developing autoimmune disorders.
Is it any wonder anxiety and depression levels also increase through menopause? Women have so much to deal with and so much to be aware of to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. Inflammation can damage the inner lining of the arteries, leading to the build-up of plaque and narrowing of the arteries, and these cardiovascular problems are what can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
It's not all doom and gloom though, there are steps women can take to reduce their risk of inflammation, joint pain and cardiovascular disease during menopause. One of the most important is hormone balancing to restore estrogen levels, reduce inflammation and protect against bone density loss and joint pain. Working with a practitioner who understands the most natural ways to achieve these outcomes will address individual needs and practical lifestyle solutions.
Diet and exercise are extremely important factors in reducing inflammation and promoting overall health during menopause. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats can help to reduce inflammation and support healthy bones and joints. Exercise, particularly weight-bearing activities such as walking and resistance training, can also help to strengthen bones and reduce joint pain.
Early warning signs of inflammation and cardiovascular disease during menopause include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, as well as fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain. As busy women we tend to ignore lots of small health issues, but when it comes to matters of the heart, don’t wait until it’s too late. In most cases these health complaints can be resolved naturally and safely.
Supplements can play a very positive role in reducing inflammation and promoting overall health during menopause. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric is another natural anti-inflammatory supplement that has a long record of effectiveness.
It is clear that menopause and inflammation are linked in a number of ways, including through the decline in estrogen levels and the increase in inflammatory markers such as CRP. Hormone balancing, diet and exercise, early warning signs monitoring and supplements can all be effective ways to reduce inflammation and promote overall health during menopause.
Women experiencing the symptoms of inflammation and cardiovascular disease should not hesitate to consult with a healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment.
Written by Mona Hecke
Mona Hecke is a degree qualified Naturopath, nutrition specialist and health and wellness writer.
With over 20 years in the health industry, beginning with a focus on children and families, and a bestselling book ‘The Lunchbox Revolution’, Mona is now empowering women through education and conversation to take action and embrace change. Gut health, mindfulness, nutrition, hormones, and menopause are the topics that women want and need to know to create their healthy future.
Mona holds certifications in Lifestyle Coaching, Kinesiology, holistic herbal medicine, and nutrition.
A recognised leader in the health industry, Mona’s strong social media presence and passion for influencing change will continue to be a catalyst for health reform for the benefit of every Australian.