menopause and cardiovascular disease risk factors

The results of a recent study suggest that leisure-time physical activity is associated with a healthier lipid blood profile in women transitioning to menopause.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a common cause of mortality in developed countries. Based on findings from epidemiological studies, women are not typically diagnosed with CVD before the age of 45, with a rise in diagnoses after the onset of menopause. Increased levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and total cholesterol are usually associated with menopausal changes.

In a recent study, researchers investigated a possible association between menopausal stage, fitness, and serum lipid profile. The study was a part of the Estrogenic Regulation of Muscle Apoptosis (ERMA) study, in which total of 886 women, aged 47-55 years, all from Finland, were classified as pre-menopausal, peri-menopausal, and post-menopausal. As previously reported, total cholesterol and  LDL-C levels were higher in post-menopausal cohort as compared to pre-menopausal samples. The levels of High-Density Lipoprotein HDL-C were also higher in post-menopausal women (less consistent with previous studies).

Based on self-reported (questionnaires) and measured fitness parameters (using an accelerometer), the researchers reported a positive correlation between the physical activity and improved serum lipid profile. Higher  HDL-C and lower total cholesterol and LDL-C levels were detected in physically active women. HDL cholesterol is usually associated with healthier profile, indicating a positive impact of physical activity on serum lipid levels.  However, fitness levels sufficient for the improved metabolic profile in pre-menopausal women were not enough to attenuate these metabolic changes in post-menopausal population. According to the researchers “leisure-time physical activity may attenuate the unfavorable atherogenic changes in the serum CV risk factors of healthy middle-aged women,”



Sira Karvinen and Eija K Laakkonen et al, Menopausal Status and Physical Activity Are Independently Associated with Cardiovascular Risk Factors of Healthy Middle-Aged Women: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Evidence. Front. Endocrinol., 30 August 2019

Physical activity may attenuate menopause-associated atherogenic changes, Sept 13th 2019,–pam091319.php


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