Arterial diseases such as heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of death amongst post-menopausal women in the UK. In 1987 in England and Wales, approximately 65,000 women die from heart disease and 45,000 from stoke each year. Compare this with the 18,000 deaths from breast cancer and you will understand the risk.

It is essential then that if you are unable or unwilling to take hormone replacement therapy you can reduce any risks by stopping smoking, reducing your weight, and taking exercise. Taking care of your diet is also important and there is some evidence that increasing your calcium intake can help to lower blood pressure. You can use semi or skimmed milk, low-fat yogurts, and cheeses and increase other sources of plant calcium from nuts, bread, cereals, and leafy green vegetables.

The vitamins A, C, and E are known as the anti-oxidant vitamins and play a key role in helping to keep your heart healthy. They help to reduce damage to the blood vessels by free radicals. Vitamin E also reduces damage to the good LDL (lower density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

Recommended levels by Dr Sandra Cabot are 20 mgs of beta-carotene (Vitamin A) 4,000 mgs of Vitamin C 100 – 500 international units of Vitamin E It has also been suggested that by giving soya protein together with oestrogen, there may be an added increase in the ability to help or prevent heart disease. This medical paper takes the opinion that soya has an oestrogenic effect and that it can help in the prevention of heart disease. This effect could be greater if taken together with HRT. For more information go to the American Heart Association site.

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