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How Your Heart Changes After 50

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

Heart disease is the number one killer for men and women in the United States, responsible for nearly one in four deaths, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk for cardiac disease shoots up as soon as women hit menopause - usually around age 50.


ESTROGEN TAKES A NOSEDIVE


Estrogen is essential for the maintenance of a lot of body functions, including reproductive health, bone development, mood management, and heart health. Menopause causes estrogen levels to drop, which means a higher risk for factors of heart disease, including high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. A #HealthyLifestyle protects our hearts when estrogen levels take a nosedive.


THE MENO-POT APPEARS


The dreaded "meno-pot", a nickname for the potbelly that seems to appear overnight, is downright frustrating - and potentially dangerous if you don't keep an eye on your waistline. The extra fat in your belly - called visceral fat, gets too cozy and coats vital organs like the liver and heart, upping your risk of chronic conditions including #diabetes, fatty #liver disease, and you guessed it - heart #disease.


Even if you don't give in to the cravings, you can still be prone to a little extra bulge. According to the Cleveland Clinic, low estrogen increases insulin resistance and can trigger cravings. Plus, our muscle mass begins to dwindle at around age 40, and our metabolism slows down. The Cleveland Clinic recommends weight training and healthy eating to combat it.


PREDIABETES DIAGNOSIS


A yearly check-up in your 50s may reveal prediabetes. According to the CDC, about 30 percent of women have prediabetes, yet only 14 percent are aware of it. Prediabetes increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. One reason for prediabetes is the onset of menopause and increased insulin resistance. Still, other factors such as genetics and lifestyle play a significant role too. Diabetes can be very hard on your heart, leading to blood vessel damage. Slash your risk of type 2 diabetes by eating healthy and being more active.


BAD CHOLESTEROL


After we blow out the candles on our 50th birthday, we get a gift we'd like to return - higher cholesterol. You see, estrogen protects our heart by increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol. When #estrogen dips, the bad cholesterol starts to increase, and good cholesterol decreases.


This doesn't mean you're automatically doomed. Now, more than ever is a good time to give your heart some extra love. Take a closer look at your lifestyle choices and identify the areas that need an overhaul.


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