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Stay strong and protect your health after menopause

While feelings about menopause differ from woman to woman, there are certain aspects of menopause that all women share. Decreased estrogen levels and the physical effects of aging increase the risk of serious health problems for menopausal women. Two of the greatest threats are heart disease and osteoporosis.

Strong hearts

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women — and it is most likely to strike after periods permanently end. Many researchers believe that the body’s estrogen protects against heart disease, which helps explain why women become particularly susceptible to heart disease after menopause.

You do not want your first sign of heart disease to be a heart attack. Before any serious problems occur, you can discover your unique risk at the Rush Heart Center for Women, Chicago’s first heart program dedicated exclusively to women.

There you can undergo a comprehensive risk assessment, including a lipid profile, electrocardiogram and examination by a cardiologist specializing in women’s heart health. If your heart disease risk is low, you will learn how to keep it that way through improved diet, blood pressure control and exercising. If your risk is high, you will be advised on lifestyle modifications, protective medications and lifesaving treatments for heart patients.

Strong bones

Likewise, you do not want your first sign of osteoporosis, a disease of dangerously brittle bones, to be a fracture.

But that is the case for many postmenopausal women, says Charlotte Harris, MD, an authority on osteoporosis and director of the Osteoporosis Treatment Center at Rush. “In the first few years after menopause, the rate at which women lose bone becomes quite rapid, which weakens bones, making them vulnerable to fractures,” Harris explains. “But bone loss is a silent change. Women don’t know it’s happening.”

The only way to detect this silent change — and diagnose osteoporosis before bones are weak enough to break — is with a bone density screening. The Osteoporosis Treatment Center provides quick and painless bone screening — a must for all women 65 or older, Harris says. Younger women at above-average risk for osteoporosis, such as those with small builds or a family history of the disease, should also be tested.

Finally, remember that bone loss can be slowed with interventions such as regular weight-bearing exercise and, if necessary, medication.

Don’t let menopause sap your strength: Take control of these health risks today.

More information at your fingertips:

  • To learn more about your risk for heart disease, join us for a free women’s heart event on May 18.
  • Want to know your risk for osteoporosis? Sign up for a free 10-minute screening at Rush on Wednesday, June 14, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or Wednesday, June 28, between 4 and 6 p.m. Call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) to schedule your appointment.
  • Looking for more information on care for women's health issues at Rush? Visit our Women’s Health Services home page.
  • Visit the women's health home page in our health information area for in-depth and patient-friendly information on medical issues that affect women.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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