Take control of rising cholesterol at menopause
Here's what the numbers mean — and strategies to lower your cholesterol if it's too high.
For some women who've had normal cholesterol readings all their lives, that changes at menopause. "Going through menopause often results in lipid and cholesterol changes for the worse," says Dr. Samia Mora, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a specialist in cardiovascular medicine the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Drops in the female hormone, estrogen, are associated with a rise in total cholesterol levels due to higher amounts of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol, and another blood lipid (fat) known as triglyceride. Over time this can raise heart risks, which is a reason for concern, as cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in postmenopausal women, says Dr. Mora.
"So, it's especially important to track the numbers in perimenopause and the early years after menopause, as LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol tend to increase," she says.