Menopause, Not Fitness, Affects Women’s Cardiovascular Health

Do you know what one of the best predictors of your cardiovascular health is as you age? If your answer has something to do with your physical fitness levels, you're right - if you're a man. But if you're reading this newsletter, you're probably not a man. And while physical fitness is certainly important, preliminary research recently presented at the Cardiovascular Aging conference indicates that for women, it may not predict some aspects of cardiovascular health as well as we once thought. 

Your blood vessels are a key component of your cardiovascular system. Their ability to dilate and keep blood flowing, a process known as endothelial function, says a lot about the system's overall health. Because physical fitness is related to endothelial function in men, for years we've assumed the same was true for women. But researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have found that this may not be the case after all.

We know that women's risk of cardiovascular disease goes up after they hit menopause. So the researchers wanted to determine whether fitness levels or menopause itself had a bigger influence on endothelial function. They gathered four groups of women: perimenopausal women and postmenopausal women who were highly fit and who had low fitness levels. They measured endothelial function by determining flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which assess how quickly blood vessels react to an increase in blood flow. The higher the FMD, the better.

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First, the researchers looked at just perimenopausal women versus the postmenopausal women, having each group complete 30 minutes of exercise on a treadmill. As expected, the perimenopausal women's FMD was better than that of the postmenopausal women. But things got interesting when the researchers divided the women by fitness level. The low-fit perimenopausal women actually had the best FMD response of all. This suggests that menopause status is much more influential than fitness on endothelial function. 

Of course, this study doesn't take into account all the other benefits of physical activity, so don't read it as an excuse to stop working out. It's just not the best way to boost your endothelial function as you age. And since you can't stop menopause from catching up with you eventually, you'll want to look for other ways to ensure you have healthy circulation. 

One of the best ways to do that is with nitric oxide. Your body naturally makes nitric oxide, which promotes blood flow, on its own. But production decreases as you age, especially after the age of 50 (see a trend here?). You can boost your production by taking CircO2, a lozenge that will naturally increase your ability to manufacture nitric oxide and deliver oxygen and other nutrients throughout your body. 

CircO2 not only positively impacts your cardiovascular system, but has been shown to improve microcirculation throughout your body. That means your brain and your nervous system benefit too. And, if you have been told that you have "pre-hypertension," and you have improved your diet and you're exercising and your numbers are not budging - consider CircO2. More nitric oxide means better circulation and lower blood pressure.

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