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Health Experts Collaborate to Help Women Navigate Menopause Confidently


"Biyaheng Menopause ng Pusong Pinay" was part of Women’s Heart Month 2024 celebrations in the country. the online forum on March 21, shed light on the inevitable transition of menopause and its profound implications for women's heart health.

Why are menopausal women at risk of cardiovascular diseases?

“During menopause, estrogen levels decline, reducing a woman’s natural protection against heart, brain, and bone disease,” Dr. Louella Santos  pointed out during the online forum, Usapang Puso sa Puso hosted by the Philippine Heart Association (PHA).

Dr. Santos, PHA Director III and Advocacy Committee Chair, underscored the link between menopause and adverse changes in cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which significantly elevate the risk of CVD.

“The decline in estrogen can lead to higher bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower good (HDL) cholesterol. This imbalance increases the risk of plaque buildup in arteries, which can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke,” she explained.

Aside from the risk of heart disease, women also face various issues and health concerns at this time when her period comes to a stop. At post menopausal stage, women are likely to experience  hot flushes, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, dry vagina, difficulty concentrating, mental confusion, stress incontinence, urge incontinence, osteoporotic symptoms, depression, headache, vasomotor symptoms, insomnia etc.

As part of Women’s Heart Month celebrations in the country, the PHA event on Thursday, March 21, invited health experts to shed light on the inevitable transition of menopause and its profound implications for women's heart health.

Likewise, the experts urged women to prioritize self-care and health-conscious behaviors to navigate menopause confidently.


Highlighting the multidisciplinary approach needed to address menopause-related health concerns, the chair of CSMC’s OB-GYN Department Evangeline Santiago, emphasized the importance of collaborative care involving gynecologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, and other specialists.

“To the menopausal woman, do not despair; aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength,” Santiago stated.

Former chair of the PHA Council on Women’s Cardiovascular Health Dr. Cynthia de Lara, also stressed the need for women to embrace menopause as a natural phase of life.

“Embracing it allows women to focus on overall well-being, both before and during this time," de Lara said. "By making healthy lifestyle choices throughout life, Filipinas can be prepared for the changes associated with menopause and prioritize their cardiovascular health, a critical aspect of well-being at any age," she added.

The experts also advocated for a balanced diet, regular exercise, weight management, and adherence to medication as essential strategies for mitigating CVD risks during menopause.

Also, regular checkups and discussions with healthcare providers were emphasized to monitor cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall health status as early as 40 years to prepare for menopause.

Furthermore, the PHA's advocacy for the "52100 healthy lifestyle code" further underscores the importance of adopting healthy habits, including adequate fruit and vegetable intake, limited sodium consumption, physical activity, and avoidance of sugary drinks and vices like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.


Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC) obstetrician and gynecologist (OB-GYN) Josephine Almaria  elaborated on how menopause can lead to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen, exacerbating inflammation and cholesterol imbalances.

“This increased belly fat releases hormones that can contribute to inflammation and unhealthy cholesterol levels, further elevating CVD risk,” she noted.

“Studies also suggest a rise in blood pressure during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and high blood pressure puts additional strain on the heart and arteries,” Almaria added.

Several studies have shown that perimenopause (which is that period before menopause) independent of age, is associated with increased fat in the abdomen as well as decreased lean body mass.

Lifestyle factors may also contribute to weight gain during menopause including decrease in physical activity, an increase in stress, and changes in sleep patterns. Consult your physician if you are experiencing these symptoms because help is available.

Take heart.  Every woman is different, and not all women gain weight during menopause.


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