Athena Men's Corner

Chapter 9:
Keep Your Heart Strong and Your Blood Flowing through  Unclogged Vessels

"Look Inside" Dr. Winnifred Cutler's essential book; an excerpt from Chapter 9 for readers.

Click here for full book description

Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Hormones and Your Health: The Smart Woman's Guide to Hormonal and Alternative Therapies for Menopause

Excerpted pages 161-163, 167

Your heart and blood vessels form a cardiovascular system: cardio means “heart,” vascular is the “blood vessels.” If you are healthy, your blood vessels provide unclogged pipelines for your blood to flow throughout your body with each heartbeat.

Your cardiovascular system accomplishes profound tasks. First, the arteries transport red blood cells loaded with oxygen from your lungs to your cells as veins carry blue-colored waste gases from your cells back to the heart and on to the lungs for exhaling. Second, like a home heating-and-cooling system, the pipelines regulate body temperature. Third, these pipelines form an orderly network that delivers:

  • Hormones
  • Nutrients such as sugar to fire the nerves
  • Building blocks such as calcium for the bones
  • The cancer-fighting cells of your immune system
  • Waste products for disposal to the liver, the kidneys, and the lungs

You want to keep this amazing system vibrant and healthy.

If your blood vessels are clogged with cholesterol or plaque, the pipelines shut down and your health deteriorates. If your veins have obstructions, you are at risk for developing a thromboembolism or having a stroke. Cardiovascular disease is silent for many years before it speaks with a big bang, like a heart attack and a stroke. Meanwhile, the natural onset of menopause starts the clock ticking for the onset of unwelcome cardiovascular changes.481 Surgical menopause (removal of the uterus and the ovaries) produces an even higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.34 The earlier it happens, the earlier the changes start.

The Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
in Postmenopausal Women

  • It kills more women. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number-one killer of men and women in the United States. Worldwide, it accounts for 38 percent of all noncatastrophic deaths.224, 639 If you look at the year 1950, you will see that for every 100,000 women, 485 died of heart disease, while only 32 died of breast cancer. Happily, death rates from both diseases have been declining since 1950. But 8 times as many women still die of heart disease as do of breast cancer.
  • It puts more women in the hospital. CVD accounts for more than one-third of the hospital stays in women over the age of 55.520 Focus your attention on the actions you can take to feel good and prevent this deadly disease.

The Gender Difference

CVD in postmenopausal women is silent and more deadly than in men.770 Although men are worse off than intact premenopausal women, with 4 times the incidence of cardiovascular disease and 40 times as many heart attacks, this ratio reverses after menopause, whether it is natural or induced by surgery. More women than men die after a heart attack.459


Take Action to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

You can’t change getting older or your family history, but there is a lot you can do to modify and/or reduce your risk of getting cardiovascular disease.606

The American Heart Association has suggested eight lifestyle interventions. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has endorsed them, after reviewing nearly 9,000 studies.307

  • No cigarette smoking
  • Regular physical activity
  • A heart-healthy diet
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Weight maintenance or reduction
  • Checking for depression in women who have cardiovascular disease because it is an unwelcome “companion”
  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for high-risk women
  • Folic acid supplementation or add it to your diet (avoid dangerous overdoses; ask your doctor before you do this one)

Also learn in this chapter:

    • The Cardiovascular Argument for HRT
    • The Importance of the Delivery Route of Hormonal Therapy
    • Inflammatory Markers ( like C reactive proteins—CRPs)  in Postmenopausal Women
    • Nature’s Design for Women: A Good Model for HRT
    • Estrogen and Sequential Progesterone Can Be a Winning Combination
    • The importance of exercise and eating intelligently