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Menopause increases heart risk

March 2, 2010 at 12:46 AM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, March 2 (UPI) -- Women entering menopause need to be aware of their increasing risk of heart disease, a U.S. doctor advises.

Dr. Vera Rigolin of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago says women need to know their symptoms of heart attack may differ from those of men. Men often experience chest discomfort while women commonly may have other, more subtle symptoms -- such as fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, jaw pain or abdominal discomfort.

"In some women, plaque can build in the smallest blood vessels called the microvascular circulation. These blockages do not show up in an angiogram," Rigolin says in a statement. "In these cases, we often use magnetic resonance imaging with medication to visualize blood flow within the small blood vessels when other standard tests do not provide us answers."

Menopausal women can lower their risk of heart disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle, Rigolin says.

"If you are a smoker, quit immediately and avoid secondhand smoke. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and exercise at least three times per week to maintain a healthy body weight," she says.

Rigolin urges visiting a healthcare provider at least yearly to have blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checked.

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