Professor Philip Sarrel, MD, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA, told the audience at this years ‘The Midlife Festival’ – a free 5 day online event run by The Latte Lounge (an online platform for women over 40), that menopausal hot flushes are far more than just ‘an inconvenience’.
During his session, one of 27 interviews with some of the UK and World’s leading medical, health and wellbeing experts, Professor Sarrel explained that the most recent data showed that the increase in women dying of heart attacks was staggering, and with 1 out of 2 dying from cardiovascular disease, it was now the leading cause of death in women.
He went on to say that results from an important US study showed that women, prior to menopause, had very low risk of cardiovascular disease, but after menopause, the numbers became equal to men.
Commenting on why this is, he said:
“One of the major causes of cardiovascular disease in women is low oestrogen levels, which have a huge impact on the metabolism of cholesterol.
Menopause symptoms such as hot flushes are a warning sign that something is out of balance. They cause a sudden release of adrenaline, which normally our arteries can control, however bad cholesterol, post menopause, can stop the arteries performing efficiently, causing them to spasm. Oestrogen helps prevent spasm in arteries and also reduces the calcium in the arterial wall.
Therefore the way to reduce risk is to understand the importance of good and bad cholesterol. HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol. When a woman goes through menopause she should therefore have a measure taken of her good and bad cholesterol, as about 40% will be very vulnerable.”
For those that can and want to take it, HRT in women who are vulnerable, can therefore be life saving. The earlier you start, the better, as evidence shows that it can reduce the risk for osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia. However, there is a window of opportunity to take HRT, starting before the age 60, for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
It is important to note that young women, who have had a hysterectomy, and are therefore plunged into menopause instantly, should be given oestrogen only therapy immediately.
For those that can’t or don’t want to take HRT, after an informed discussion with their health care provider explaining the benefits vs risks, there are many other medical and lifestyle factors that we can consider, to act as a deterrent.
A statement from the American Heart association shows that evidence supports the cardiovascular benefits of HRT.”
Joining Prof Sarrel, during the free, week long online event to mark Menopause Awareness Month, were Professor Tim Spector, Professor Nick Panay, Dr Haitham Hamoda and TV Presenters Davina McCall and Nadia Sawalha.
‘The Midlife Festival’ (themidlifefestival.com) ran from 10-14 October 2022 to co-incide with Menopause and Breast Cancer awareness month. It brought together 27 well-known speakers and leading medical experts, to share their knowledge, wisdom and top tips on how women can lead a healthier, happier and more positive life through their 40s, 50s and beyond.
More than 12,000 women attended the festival, with overwhelming praise for Professor Sarrels session: