February is officially American Heart Month; a time to reflect on the importance of heart health and what we can do to take care of the most important muscle in our body. Here at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, we often stress the relationship between a woman’s reproductive health and wellness and her overall physical well-being. That’s why we wanted to take a moment to discuss a few common reproductive health concerns and the impact they can have on heart health for women.
Once a woman transitions into menopause her risk of developing heart disease increases considerably. This is partially due to the natural dip in estrogen produced by a woman’s ovaries after she has gone through menopause. Decreased estrogen levels have also been known to increase a woman’s risk for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes; three conditions commonly associated with heart disease. Women who transition into menopause at an early age (premature menopause) have an even greater risk for heart disease due to this increased time with a depleted supply of estrogen.
In addition to causing reproductive issues like pelvic pain and irregular bleeding, endometriosis can make women more vulnerable to more serious heart health concerns. Endometriosis can contribute to coronary artery disease and potential heart attacks, as well as other conditions that promote heart diseases like chronic inflammation and high levels of “bad” cholesterol. In fact, women below the age of 40 who experience endometriosis may be as much as three times more likely to have heart disease than women without endometriosis in the same age range.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is commonly associated with a wide variety of symptoms including infertility, acne, excess body hair growth, and weight fluctuation, but there is also a link between PCOS and two common indicators of heart disease. Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, both of which can lead to heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and other heart problems. Roughly 35% of women with PCOS have prediabetes and 10% go on to develop diabetes by age 40. This is why it’s so important for women with PCOS to regularly exercise and make heart-healthy lifestyle choices.
Heart health is obviously nothing to take lightly. Our hope is that by providing this information, our readers will not worry, but use this guide to be more aware of their risk of developing heart disease and take a more proactive approach to maintain long-term health and wellness. For more information or to request an appointment with one of our board-certified gynecologists or licensed nurse practitioners, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett. You can also follow us on Facebook or check our medical spa MadEmEl Medical Aesthetics on Instagram for additional news, tips, and much more.