Episode 115:  Nine Steps to a Healthier Heart in Perimenopause and Beyond

In this episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni discuss why you need to pay attention to your heart and cardiovascular health as you move through perimenopause into menopause. Learn what research is telling us about how you can reduce your risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease, one of the main silent killers in women. 

Why is your heart health important?

February is Heart Month in Canada and the United States

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, responsible for about 1 in every 5 female deaths.

A woman dies of heart disease in Canada every 20 minutes. Retrospective research shows that early signs of an impending heart attack were missed in 78% of women. Two-thirds of heart disease research focuses on men.

Women’s heart disease tends to appear in the smaller blood vessels of the heart rather than the major coronary arteries. This means that symptoms might not fit the classic textbook picture of heart disease. Women are more likely to experience chest discomfort (rather than a crushing pain), shortness of breath, fatigue, indigestion or nausea, back or neck pain.  

Angiograms are not effective at diagnosing disease in the smaller blood vessels and stress tests are less sensitive for women.

Women’s hearts are impacted by pregnancy, menopause and hormonal changes throughout their lives.

The decrease in your estrogen levels in perimenopause and menopause can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

See Episode 107 for more information on using estrogen in menopause to support your cardiovascular health

See Episode 61 for more information about cholesterol – cholesterol is a crucial building block for your hormones

9 Steps to a Healthier Heart:

  1. Address your cholesterol, oxidation and inflammation 
    • Quit smoking or don’t start!
  2. Focus on healthy body composition, not just your weight
    • Reduce inflammatory visceral fat around your abdomen
    • Aim for waist circumference of 80cm or 31.5” or less
  3. Increase your fruit, veggies and omega 3 fatty acids
    • Mediterranean diet – more veggies, fruit, olive oil, fish
    • Reduces cardiovascular disease by 25%
    • 2 servings of fish = 300-450mg EPA+DHA
    • Research based intake of omega 3 supplement = 2000-2500mg EPA+DHA
  4. Optimize your blood pressure
    • DASH diet with lower daily sodium intake (1500mg or ⅔ tsp salt)
    • Potassium – dates, bananas, plantain, papaya, raisins, avocado, potato, sweet potato, bok choy, spinach, parsnip, chickpeas, lentils
    • See food sources of potassium HERE 
    • See Episode 10 for Dr. Toni’s Hemp Protein Power Balls
  5. Manage your stress
    • Reduce social isolation and loneliness with community and connection programs like Wild Collective
    • Spending time in nature – 2 hours weekly
  6. Watch your alcohol consumption
    • Maximum intake for women to not increase cardiovascular disease risk is 1 drink daily – 5 oz wine, 1.5 oz liquor, 1 can beer
  7. Be more physically active and less sedentary
    • Less sitting and more standing in the afternoon
  8. Optimize your blood sugar
    • See the above steps!
  9. Enhance your sleep

Lab Testing to Consider:

Cholesterol (or lipid) panel – total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides

Cholesterol particle size including VLDL

Oxidative stress – oxidized LDL, urinary 8-OHdg (8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine)

Inflammation – High sensitivity C Reactive Protein 

Homocysteine – marker for cardiovascular health and B vitamin status

Thyroid panel – TSH, free T4 and T3 – for more info, see Episode 42

Blood sugar – HbA1c, fasting glucose and insulin – for more info, see Episode 45

Food sensitivity testing, Celiac screen

Hormone testing including cortisol levels

Omega 3 Index

Framingham Score for Cardiovascular Risk: 

Heart health calculator

Dr. Lisa’s Super Mom Moment Recipes:

Honey Buttercream Frosting

Almond Flour Cake

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni loves the new Disney animated movie Encanto

Dr. Lisa is a big fan of her Hario cold brew coffee pot

What else we’re up to:

Dr. Lisa’s next Wild Collective group is starting later this spring – get on the waitlist HERE.

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing class series starting in March – for more info on a free online masterclass to reduce fear and anxiety around birth, click HERE

Thank you for joining us today!

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Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this presentation is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.