High Cholesterol In Women Not Same Heart Attack Risk As For Men

Women get protection from their hormones for reducing heart attack risk, and it is progesterone that makes the difference.


It is something I have trying to tell doctors for years – sadly with little success – which is what Dr John Lee was saying many years ago and that is that women are not at the same risk of heart attack from high cholesterol as men are.

This is because women do not deposit fat in the arteries in the same way that men do but the same guidelines apply when treating high cholesterol levels in men and women.

According to a study in Norway of more than 40,000 men and women,, middle-aged men with high cholesterol are much more likely to suffer a heart attack than women of the same age with the same levels, according to new research. The study’s first author Doctor Erik Madssen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said: ‘Our results suggest that in middle age, high cholesterol levels are much more detrimental for men than women, so that prevention efforts in this age group will have a greater potential to reduce the occurrence of a first heart attack in men.’

Why are women protected?

It is down to our hormones, and these results suggest that in middle age, high cholesterol levels are much more detrimental for men than women. The key factor for women lies in hormone balance, particularly at risk of those on HRT as long term use is linked to a greater risk of stroke and heart attack. This is due to the fact some if its side effects include weight gain and raised blood pressure.

In 1997 research in England showed that progesterone is effective in relaxing coronary artries which have gone into spasm, and that excess oestrogen (oestrogen dominance) can in fact cause spasm.

As most menopausal womens heart attacks are due to heart spasm, not narrowing of the coronary arteries as in men, this is obviusly an important factor in demonstrating the protective role of progestrone in preventing potentially fatal heart attacks.

Minimising the risk

There are several factors that can increase your risk and these include :

**  long term HRT use

**  being overweight

**  lack of exercise

So to reduce that risk means simply taking basic prevention measures like keeping an eye on your weight and blood pressure, checking for oestrogen dominance symptoms, and making sure your progesterone levels are adequate to protect you.