February 28, 2016

Saralyn Mark, MD Feedback from TappMD Expert
Saralyn Mark, MD
Lifestyle Changes
Studies show that heart disease can increase after menopause and a rise in cholesterol levels may be associated with this finding. Lifestyle changes such as exercise and good nutrition are important in addition to potentially taking medications to lower cholesterol.

(Health.com) — Doctors have known for years that a woman’s risk of developing heart disease rises after menopause, but they weren’t exactly sure why. It wasn’t clear whether the increased risk is due to the hormonal changes associated with menopause, to aging itself, or to some combination of the two.

Now, we have at least part of the answer: A new study shows beyond a doubt that menopause, not the natural aging process, is responsible for a sharp increase in cholesterol levels.

This seems to be true of all women, regardless of ethnicity, according to the study, which will be published in next week’s Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“As they approach menopause, many, many women show a very striking increase in cholesterol levels, which in turn increases risk for later heart disease,” says the lead author of the study, Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Over a 10-year period, Matthews and her colleagues followed 1,054 U.S. women as they went through menopause. Each year the researchers tested study participants for cholesterol, blood pressure, and other heart disease risk factors such as blood glucose and insulin.

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Saralyn Mark, MD

Saralyn Mark, MD, an endocrinologist, geriatrician and women's health specialist, was the first Senior Medical Advisor to the Office on Women's Health within the Department of Health and Human Services for 11 years and to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As Senior Medical Advisor, Dr. Mark was responsible for the development and analysis of initiatives and programs on emerging technologies, public health preparedness, physician workforce issues, sex and gender-based medicine and women's health on Earth and in Space.