Flashing High Cholesterol

Flash is an exciting word. A positive event. According to dictionary.com, a flash is:

  1. a brief, sudden burst of bright light: a flash of lightning.
  2. a sudden, brief outburst or display of joy, wit, etc.

But now ‘flash’ is also associated with high cholesterol.  (Hot flashes, that is.  And night sweats. And just like that — ‘in a flash’ I’d say, if I were a pun-ster —  flash falls flat.

The SWAN study (I kid you not – it stands for the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation) of 3,201 women between the ages of 42 and 52 found that perimenopausal (the years leading up to menopause) and menopausal women with a high degree of hot flashes (6+/day), “had significantly higher LDL, HDL, tryglycerides, ApoE, and ApoA levels than women who had no hot flashes. That held true even after the researchers took into account other risk factors for elevated cholesterol, including age and body weight.”

In the MedicineNet article where this was published, Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and a past president of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology, explains:

“If hot flashes really are associated with higher levels of both good and bad cholesterol, I have no idea what that means,” she says.

One message that is clear, she says, is that menopause is associated with substantial alterations in heart disease risk.

This is an important time to see your doctor and have your cardiovascular risk assessed,” she says.”

This is wildly frustrating: the director of PREVENTATIVE CARDIOLOGY… and a woman, at that… has no idea what this means — but see your doctor.  So what, that doc can put you on statins?

ARGH.

OK, so maybe this was a bad quote – she of course didn’t mean to have it reported that she “had no idea what that means.”

So I checked the ‘American Medical News’ site and found an article entitled, ‘Menopause onset brings higher cholesterol levels, heart disease risk.’  Their main point was:

“Cholesterol levels increase sharply at the onset of menopause, which may elevate the risk of coronary heart disease, according to a study in the Dec. 15/22, 2009.”

At least they go on to say have a cholesterol test done and try to change with lifestyle and food choices because meds are expensive and have side effects.  (Though further they say anti-depressants – which I feel like I might need to deal with all this – increase stroke risk.)

Two more articles about hot flashes, menopause and high cholesterol:

I’ve been researching this in preparation for my ob/gyn visit tomorrow where I have to discuss some kind of remedy for the awful night sweats that are ramping up in frequency. I’m glad I now know to also ask her to order a full cholesterol test – which I’ve been avoiding because I’ve not been eating well enough.  

But maybe the threat of a ‘no’ answer to possible night sweat / hot flash remedies will get me back on the lo-co diet. 

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