Keeping A Woman's Heart Healthy
It's February and we are wearing red for heart disease awareness month. More and more people are becoming aware of the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Cardiovascular disease used to be considered a "man's health problem". In 1984, that changed. According to the American Heart Association, since 1984 more women are dying from cardiovascular disease than men. When you see this trend, a logical question is "Why?"
Researchers have known for years that premenopausal women have a much lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared to postmenopausal women. So there is something about a woman's menstrual cycle that gives her protection from this disease. Therefore, anything that disrupts this natural process in a woman's body has the potential to also disrupt this cardio protection.
Because the birth control pill was introduced in 1960, scientists have questioned whether or not its introduction into the lives of millions of women contributed to the cross over that occurred in 1984. Some large studies have shown no correlation between the pill and relative increase in cardiovascular disease risk, which is very consoling to both women and their doctors. But frankly, I am skeptical of the results of these large studies and here's why....
1) If you look at the side effect profile of the pill (and its cousins the ring, the shot, and the patch), you will see listed: weight gain, increased cholesterol/triglycerides, increased blood pressure and sometimes increase in blood glucose. All of these side effects are things we are told to try to reduce by exercise and diet or medication.
2) A woman's natural balance of hormones has been shown to decrease her risk of heart disease. Scientists are still discovering what, why and how a woman's hormones affect the blood vessels and heart. It is not logical to think that disrupting this natural balance is going to be good for a woman's overall health.Continued on the next page