This post was sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own.
Is menopause a time women should pay special attention to cholesterol levels?
As a heart attack survivor, I’m dedicated to keeping my risk of another heart attack as low as possible. I recently visited with a brilliant and well-respected cardiologist who discussed the connection between menopause and increasing cholesterol levels. This compelled me to make an appointment for blood tests and have a discussion with my doctor.
We all know that menopause causes changes, some of which are pretty darned unpleasant. I knew weight could tick up, but I didn’t know hormone changes could also potentially make blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase too.
Cholesterol is essential to our health – it carries our hormones and even keeps our skin supple. But too much cholesterol is a problem. We only need a little bit.
Did you know that high cholesterol, especially low-density lipoprotein — or “bad” — cholesterol, is a major risk factor for heart disease, the number one cause of death for women of all ages?
Why do menopausal women need to pay attention to cholesterol levels?
As we age, and our hormones change, our risk of heart disease goes up. That just means we have to pay better attention to all of our risk factors, including our cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol can build up in your arteries and slow down the flow of blood. This build-up is called plaque. The real problem happens if an artery becomes clogged or if some of the plaque breaks off and floats downstream to a smaller blood vessel and clogs it. If that blood vessel goes to the heart, it can cause a heart attack. If it feeds the brain, it can cause a stroke.
So what should you do?
Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol. High cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms, but it can have serious consequences.
The only way we know we have it is to have it tested. Exercise and a healthy diet are important, but high cholesterol can also run in your family and therefore may not be controllable through diet and exercise alone. I encourage everyone — especially women — to have a candid conversation with their doctor about all their potential risk factors, including family history, diet and other medications or supplements.
Your doctor may prescribe a statin medication to help manage your cholesterol, which means you also need to discuss potential side effects.
If you have challenges with a statin or any medication, please speak up!
I was shocked to learn that less than half of people who are prescribed a medication to lower their cholesterol communicate openly with their healthcare provider about challenges with their statin and half will stop taking it within the first year, according to a recent survey*.
This worries me.
There are many things we can’t control about getting older, but high cholesterol doesn’t have to be one of them.
If you need a little help to get that discussion started, check out the resources on the Take Cholesterol to Heart website.
Let’s be serious, menopause can be challenging, but treating high cholesterol doesn’t have to be with a little bit of open conversation with your doc – follow my lead and go make your appointment!