Coronary heart disease symptoms usually start around 10 years after the menopause, but the process of clogging of the arteries (atheroma) starts much earlier. It is thought to start in some people during childhood, particularly in those with an unhealthy lifestyle.
It has been suggested that women are protected by the hormone estrogen while they still have periods. After the menopause, when women go through their "change," the estrogen levels fall, and women become vulnerable to coronary heart disease.
After the menopause, coronary heart disease can progress very rapidly, particularly in women with cardiovascular risk factors. After the menopause, the levels of cholesterol, the "bad" LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and blood clotting factors (fibrinogen) increase. All the substances increase the fat deposits in arteries. The way the blood vessels contract and relax also becomes abnormal.
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