September 22, 2020 (IANSlife) Menopause is a natural phase in the life of a woman; an overall increase in chances of a heart attack is seen among women about 10 years after menopause. More than 1 in 3 female adults have some form of cardiovascular disease after menopause. It has been observed that heart disease is the number one killer in women after the age of 50 years; nearly half of all deaths in women are due to heart disease.
Dr. Tripti Raheja, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh takes us through why women who have gone through menopause and also have the following conditions are at even greater risk:
Estrogen helps in keeping the blood vessels flexible which means that they can relax and expand to accommodate the blood flow. A decline in Estrogen occurs after menopause leading to stiffness in the blood vessels which is a factor in increasing the risk of heart disease. Assorted changes in the body occur due to declining Estrogen levels after menopause. The blood pressure starts to go up, LDL or bad cholesterol tends to increase while HDL or good cholesterol declines or remains the same and the bodyweight starts increasing.
DIETARY ADVICE FOR A HEALTHY HEART
There are no super foods which can cause miracles but a combination of balanced diet and good eating habits can decrease the risk of health problems.
Control your portions.
How much you eat and what you eat is equally important. Use smaller utensils to control your portions. Eat larger portions of low calorie, nutrient-rich food and smaller portions of high calorie, high sodium food such as refined, processed or fast food.
Eat more vegetables and fruit
Vegetables and fruit are sources of vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories and rich in dietary fibres. A vegetarian diet helps in preventing heart diseases. However, you should avoid coconut, fried vegetables and canned fruits.
Select whole grain
Whole grains are a good source of fibre and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You should choose whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread, brown rice, barley and oats. You should avoid refined flour, white bread, biscuits, cakes, noodles, muffins, waffles, doughnuts, buttered popcorn.
Limit unhealthy fats
High blood cholesterol level can lead to a build-up of plaques in your arteries called atherosclerosis which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Limit saturated and Trans fat to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of a heart attack.
When you do use fats, choose olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats found in avocado, nuts, seeds and fish are also good choices for a heart-healthy diet. An easy way to add healthy fat and fibre to your diet is flax seeds which contain omega-3-fatty acid. You can grind them in a mixer and consume it with yoghurt.
Choose low-fat protein sources
Use low-fat milk, eggs, beans, peas and lentils, soya bean and soy products, lean meat and fish as a source of protein.
According to the American Heart Association’s advice, healthy adults should not have more than 2300 mg (a teaspoon) of sodium in a day.
EXERCISE TO BOOST HEART HEALTH
Being physically active is very important for good heart health. It helps in strengthening heart muscles, keeping your weight under control and warding off the artery damage from high cholesterol, high sugar and high blood pressure.
Women should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week to help prevent heart disease and 300 minutes or more weekly for a significant weight loss programme. Walking, cycling, dancing or swimming activities that use larger muscles at low resistance are good aerobic exercises.
Life Style Modifications
Smoking is the single largest avoidable risk factor which increases the risk of heart diseases exponentially.
Maintenance of a healthy weight is a key factor in mitigating the risk of heart ailments.
Stress management by meditation & relaxation exercises leads to the release of healthy chemicals in the body.
Sleeping is the nature’s way of healing day to day damage occurring in the body. Hence a good quality sleep of at least seven hours is recommended.
REGULAR HEALTH CHECKUPS
Regular health checks are strongly recommended after menopause to monitor the health of your heart so that any deterioration can be detected in the early stages and preventive measures can be taken.
Get your blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar level checked on a regular interval according to your doctor’s advice. Regular screening for them allows you to have an early diagnosis and proper treatment.
The above-suggested measures should be undertaken for a longer lifespan and a fitter heart to enjoy a better quality life.
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