Menopause is a time of significant change in a woman’s life, and it comes with its share of myths, especially regarding its impact on heart disease. Here are some common myths about menopause and heart disease, along with the facts:


Myth 1: Heart disease risk only increases for men as they age, not for women.

Fact: While men have a higher risk of heart disease at a younger age, women’s risk increases and may surpass that of men following menopause. This is largely due to the decline in estrogen levels, which is believed to have a protective effect on the artery walls, helping to keep them flexible and less susceptible to atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque).


Myth 2: If I haven’t had any heart problems before menopause, I won’t have them after.

Fact: Menopause itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Changes in hormone levels and natural aging can lead to increased risks regardless of past heart health. Post-menopause, women tend to have higher concentrations of cholesterol, LDL (Bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, which can increase the risk of heart disease. HDL – Good Cholesterol tends to trend down with menopause.


Understanding these myths and facts can help women make informed decisions about their health during and after menopause. Being proactive with cardiovascular health is essential, as heart disease remains a leading cause of death for women globally.


In the USA, one woman dies every 80 seconds form heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women worldwide, and understanding why involves exploring several physiological, lifestyle, and healthcare-related factors. Here’s an in-depth look at why heart disease is particularly deadly for women:


Biological Factors

Hormonal Changes: Women experience significant hormonal changes throughout their lives, especially during menopause when estrogen levels drop. Estrogen is believed to offer some protection against heart artery disease. Its decline during menopause is linked with various cardiovascular risks like stiffening of arteries and an increase in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.


Smaller Heart and Blood Vessels: Women generally have smaller hearts and narrower blood vessels than men. This anatomical difference can affect the way heart disease develops and presents in women, often leading to more severe outcomes when blockages occur.


Symptom Recognition and Response

Atypical Symptoms: Women are more likely than men to have atypical heart attack symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, which can be easily mistaken for less critical conditions like stress, and menopause-related symptoms.

Under-recognition by Healthcare Systems: Historically, heart disease was thought to be a “man’s disease”, which has led to under-recognition and under-researching of the disease in women. This bias means women are often diagnosed later than men, reducing the effectiveness of treatment.


Risk Factor Profile

Impact of Risk Factors: Certain risk factors have a more pronounced effect on the cardiovascular health of women compared to men. For example, diabetes and high blood pressure have a stronger correlation with heart disease in women. Mental stress and depression, more common among women, also affect women’s hearts more than men’s.

Post-menopausal Changes: After menopause, the rate of cardiovascular disease in women catches up and often surpasses that in men, attributed to hormonal changes that affect body fat distribution, cholesterol levels, and vascular health.


Lifestyle Factors

Physical Inactivity: Women may be less active than men, particularly as they age. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease.

Smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease, and its effects are more harmful for women than for men.


Socioeconomic Factors

Healthcare Access: In many parts of the world, women have less access to healthcare. Socioeconomic constraints can lead to poor diet, higher stress levels, and inadequate management of risk factors, all contributing to higher heart disease rates.


Delayed Treatment

Response to Emergency: Women often delay seeking help when heart attack symptoms occur, partially because they underestimate their risk or because their symptoms do not align with the ‘classic’ heart attack symptoms experienced by men.



The intersection of biological differences, symptom recognition issues, risk factor impacts, lifestyle considerations, and socioeconomic conditions makes heart disease particularly dangerous for women. Raising awareness, improving healthcare provider training on the gender-specific aspects of cardiovascular disease, and promoting targeted prevention strategies are crucial to addressing this disparity and reducing mortality among women due to heart disease.


~ Dr. Mia Chorney

thePause co-founder and CPO