Dr. Beena Jeysingh, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood hospital, Bangalore India, explains in detail as to why women are less vulnerable to heart ailments in young age and whether hormone replacement therapy is an answer to protect older women against heart disease.
Nature has blessed the fairer sex with a shield against heart diseases as long as she is menstruating. In comparison to males, females are at a lower risk of developing heart ailment early in their life. However, the risk increases considerably after a woman has entered menopause. The answer to this riddle lies with the female hormone oestrogen that is produced by the ovaries. Oestrogen has a major role in the menstruation cycle and also offers protection to the heart. As women age and attain their menopause, the production of the oestrogen reduces drastically. This reduction, in turn, makes them vulnerable to heart ailments, as the heart is no longer protected.
Until a few years ago, hormone replacement therapy was prescribed by default to women for treating menopause side effects. But is it advisable to consider the same treatment for protecting women against heart disease? The answer is NO.
“The medical fraternity do not advise for hormone replacement therapy as a preventive measure to women against heart disease. It has its limitation and there are several risk factors associated with it. We recommend healthy habits and physical exercise to women if they wish to keep heart problems at bay in their old age,” warns Dr Beena Jeysingh.
Low level of oestrogen is not the only cause of heart disease in old age. It is just one of the contributing factors. Therefore, its substitution alone cannot be the solution to old age heart diseases. There can be more than one factors that can cause heart problems in older women, some of them are:
- Increased susceptibility to atherosclerotic plaque deposition
- Changes in the internal walls of the heart’s blood vessels
- High levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol
- Low levels of HDL, the good cholesterol
- Increased risk of blood clot formation
- Elevated blood pressure levels
Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) has been found to increase the chances of blood clot formation, thus putting an individual in a life threatening situation.
The preventive measures advised by the doctors are healthy habits, active lifestyle, keeping one’s blood sugar levels and blood pressure under control throughout their lives. A woman should not neglect her health and try to seek remedies only when she has entered menopause. Stay healthy.