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Menopause Often Means Worsening Cholesterol
Date:12/11/2009

Studies also report on statin dosages and lifestyle factors that affect the heart,,

FRIDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Blood levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad kind that blocks arteries, go up sharply in women at the time of menopause, but there are no other dramatic changes in risk factors for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, a new study has found.

"This suggests that as women approach menopause, they need to have their lipid profiles checked," said Karen A. Matthews, a professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and the study's lead author. A report on the findings is published in the Dec. 15/22 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which is focused on prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Two other studies reported in the same issue showed that higher doses of statins, drugs that lower LDL cholesterol levels, are more effective over the long run than lower doses in preventing heart attacks, other cardiovascular problems and premature death.

The menopause report is the latest from a study that has followed more than 3,000 American women since 1996, "trying to understand the changes women experience during life," Matthews said. One major change is menopause, when menstruation stops as production of estrogen is reduced.

It has been known that women's risk for cardiovascular problems increases after menopause. "Our study has been checking many different things in relation to menopause and cardiovascular risk," Matthews said. "The primary result is an increase in total cholesterol, due to an increase in LDL cholesterol as well as in apolipoprotein B, the protein carrier for LDL cholesterol."

Those changes occur regardless of ethnic background and "appear to be a fairly uniform response to menopause," she said.

"Other risk factors we measured didn't show a dramatic change," Matthews said. "I exp
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