Remember when heart disease was a condition thought to mostly affect older men?
For some reason, it took doctors a while to realize that their female patients were developing heart disease too — and at a much higher rate!
As we now know, this danger is profound. In fact, women’s mortality from heart disease is four times higher than deaths from breast cancer.
Fortunately, recent research reveals one of the key factors that drives heart disease risk in women. And even better: This factor is highly treatable.
The powerful hormonal effect in heart disease
The factor involves a type of estrogen called estradiol.
To understand this factor, you need to know about the two types of fat (visceral adipose tissue, or pericardial fat) that surround your heart:
- Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT), which directly covers the heart and serves an important function in providing energy to your heart
- Paracardial adipose tissue (PAT), the outermost layer, separate from the surface of the heart, which serves no beneficial function
University of Pittsburgh researchers have found that higher volume of paracardial fat (a condition called “fatty heart”) is associated with a drop of estradiol in women at midlife.
More recently, the same Pittsburgh team evaluated data from nearly 500 women who were at various stages of menopause.
Their analysis showed that women with the lowest estradiol levels had significantly more fat in their paracardial adipose tissues (PAT) than those with high levels. And that higher volume of paracardial fat was linked to a significantly higher risk of calcium buildup in the arteries, known as coronary artery calcification or CAC.
In a nutshell, this coronary artery disease risk is directly linked to menopause, and specifically to a drop in estradiol.
Steer clear of this “disaster” of a solution
In Dr. Fred Pescatore’s Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol, he notes that this “fatty heart” condition should be an urgent concern for women who are approaching, experiencing, or have passed menopause.
In fact, he believes that it may turn out to be even more dangerous than other common cardiovascular transformations that occur with menopause. These include:
- A drop in HDL cholesterol
- An increase in triglycerides
- A rise in blood pressure
To head off these problems before they arise, the Pittsburgh researchers suggest that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might be a good way to control dangerous paracardial fat.
But Dr. Pescatore strongly disagrees.
He calls synthetic HRT “a disaster.” To underline his point, he cites the Women’s Health Initiative study. This large trial was abruptly shut down when it became clear that HRT use was linked to higher breast cancer rates in otherwise healthy women.
But that doesn’t mean hormone replacement is the wrong strategy…
Trimming your treatment to your needs
Dr. Pescatore recommends bioidentical hormone replacement therapy because, he says, “It’s designed to precisely match the amounts and types of hormones your body would naturally produce.
“I’ve prescribed it to my patients for years, with great success. I’ve seen it restore health and vitality to women who feel their youth slipping away.”
Bioidentical HRT is far safer than synthetic hormone replacement, but Dr. Pescatore does offer a few cautions to consider. For instance, he notes that if you’re a woman who’s had an estrogen-related cancer, you shouldn’t use hormone replacement therapy of any sort.
And he adds, “Neither should people with genetic markers for estrogen-related cancers, such as the BRCA gene. For these women, risks of HRT far outweigh the benefits.”
He also strongly encourages overweight women to focus on weight loss. He notes that heart fat can be dramatically reduced with weight-loss interventions. And to that end, he offers this general dietary advice: “Stick with whole, unprocessed foods, grass-fed meats and wild fish, organic produce, and foods with monounsaturated fatty acids like macadamia nut oil.”
Dr. Pescatore provides further advice and insights about bioidentical HRT, menopause, and many other all-natural tools women have to protect their heart in his Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol.
“Postmenopausal Women With Greater Paracardial Fat Have More Coronary Artery Calcification Than Premenopausal Women: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) Cardiovascular Fat Ancillary Study” Journal of the American Heart Association 2017; 6(2). doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.116.004545