17 Oct 2022

Heart health & menopause: hot flushes are more than an inconvenience says leading Yale professor

A leading professor from Yale University has told this year's The Midlife Festival about how menopause can be a risk factor for a range of diseases including poor heart health.

Hot flushes are more than just an inconvenience - they are a risk factor for heart disease, bone loss and late life dementia, says leading Yale Professor.

Professor Philip Sarrel, MD, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA, told the audience at this year's ‘The Midlife Festival’ - The Latte Lounge's free 5 day online event, that menopausal hot flushes are far more than just ‘an inconvenience’.

During his talk, one of 27 interviews with some of the UK and world's leading medical, health and wellbeing experts, Professor Sarrel explained that the most recent data showed that the increase in women dying of heart attacks was staggering, and with 1 out of 2 dying from cardiovascular disease, it was now the leading cause of death in women.

He went on to say that results from an important US study showed that women, prior to menopause, had very low risk of cardiovascular disease, but after menopause, the numbers became equal to men.

Commenting on why this is, he said:

“One of the major causes of cardiovascular disease in women is low oestrogen levels, which have a huge impact on the metabolism of cholesterol.

"Menopause symptoms such as hot flushes are a warning sign that something is out of balance. They cause a sudden release of adrenaline, which normally our arteries can control, however bad cholesterol, post-menopause, can stop the arteries performing efficiently, causing them to spasm. Oestrogen helps prevent spasm in arteries and also reduces the calcium in the arterial wall.

"Therefore the way to reduce risk is to understand the importance of good and bad cholesterol. HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol. When a woman goes through menopause she should therefore have a measure taken of her good and bad cholesterol, as about 40% will be very vulnerable.

"For those that can and want to take it, HRT in women who are vulnerable, can therefore be life saving. The earlier you start, the better, as evidence shows that it can reduce the risk for osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia. However, there is a window of opportunity to take HRT, starting before the age 60, for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

"It is important to note that young women, who have had a hysterectomy, and are therefore plunged into menopause instantly, should be given oestrogen-only therapy immediately. For those that can't or don’t want to take HRT, after an informed discussion with their healthcare provider explaining the benefits vs risks, there are many other medical and lifestyle factors that we can consider, to act as a deterrent. A statement from the American Heart association shows that evidence supports the
cardiovascular benefits of HRT.”

Joining Prof Sarrel, during the free, week-long online event to mark Menopause Awareness Month, were Professor Tim Spector, Professor Nick Panay, Dr Haitham Hamoda and TV Presenters Davina McCall and Nadia Sawalha.

Nearly 13,000 women attended the festival, with overwhelming praise for Professor Sarrel's session:

A response from one of the attendees on The Latte Lounge Facebook Group said:

“It's shocking that some of this information about women's heart health after menopause has been known for over 80 years and yet still nothing has been done. Professor Sarrel is like the ‘Attenborough’ of menopause, every medic, every woman and every man needs to know about this NOW.”

Another said:

“Professor Sarrel's interview blew me away, think of the saving to the NHS if we reduced the number of bypass surgeries alone. This needs to be streamed on mainstream TV so everyone understands that HRT, for those that can and want to take it, is not just about mitigating nasty menopause symptoms, it's about saving lives!”

The Midlife Festival was created in 2021 by The Latte Lounge, founded in 2016 by Katie Taylor after her own debilitating perimenopausal symptoms were misdiagnosed as depression. Forced to give up her career, she set out to ensure that no other woman would suffer in the same way that she did.

Katie said:

“The Midlife Festival was created in order to make menopause a normal topic of conversation, helping to break down the taboos, whilst educating women about the different symptoms they can experience, and providing them with simple, evidenced-based information, to enable them to make an informed choice with their Health Care Providers, about their treatment options.

“We’re finally seeing a seismic shift in the narrative around what it means to be a woman in your 40s, 50s and beyond.

“For too long, midlife women have been made to feel invisible in society, have suffered in silence with often debilitating symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, whilst taking on their fair share of the ‘sandwich generation’ burden - juggling caring for children and ageing parents, while also trying to manage their work and home lives too.

“'The Midlife Festival’ is about shining a spotlight on the woman in the middle, amplifying our voices, and celebrating all the positives that this next stage in our lives has to offer.”

If you would like to catch-up on any of the talks from The Midlife Festival 2022 on-demand, then our lifetime-access VIP Passes are now on sale. Purchase your lifetime access pass here.

Highlights from The Midlife Festival 2022

26 speakers. 5 days. All online. Watch the highlights from The Midlife Festival 2022 featuring Davina McCall, Nadia Sawalha, Kat Farmer, Ruby Hammer MBE, Professor Tim Spector OBE, Professor Philip Sarrel, Prof Nick Panay, Dr Shahzadi Harper, Lavina Mehta MBE and many more discussing topics including menopause, perimenopause, body confidence, heart health, fitness nutrition and more.

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