Women: Are hot flashes hijacking your heart health?

Three simple, effective, and scientifically proven natural remedies to soothe those sweats—and rein in your risk

On page 3, I discussed how lack of sleep can take a devastating toll on heart health—particularly in menopausal women.

But there are two symptoms in particular that often stand in the way of menopausal women getting the rest they need. In fact, hot flashes and night sweats are huge contributors to postmenopausal insomnia.

And it turns out, some brand new research links these menopause symptoms directly to potentially deadly cardiovascular events.

The good news is, there are several safe, natural solutions for combatting these common—yet agonizing—symptoms. I’ll tell you more about those in just a minute. But first, let’s take a look at the latest research indicating that hot flashes may be far more than just a nuisance…

Hot flashes increase heart risk

Researchers from the University of Queensland looked at data from more than 500,000 women participating in 25 studies around the world. They found that menopausal women who have hot flashes and night sweats are 70 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, angina, or a stroke.1

Not only that, but they also found that these vasomotor symptoms, as they’re called, threaten heart health in women of any age—raising risk of cardiovascular events by 40 percent, even before menopause.

Ultimately, the severity of the hot flashes and night sweats—rather than how often they happened or how long they lasted—was the strongest predictor of risk. (Women with the worst symptoms were more than twice as likely as their symptom-free counterparts to suffer a non-fatal cardiovascular event.)

So what can you do?

Sure, you could just “wait it out.” But chances are good that you’ll be suffering through those hot flashes a lot longer than you think—up to 14 years, in fact.4 And the earlier they started, the longer they’ll likely continue.

I’ve had patients in their late 60s who still have the occasional hot flash. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a lifetime of sweating. Nor do you have to take synthetic hormones that may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, or breast cancer.

Because the fact is, there are several simple, effective, and scientifically proven natural remedies for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms that I regularly recommend to my patients. And chief among them is bioidentical hormone therapy (bHRT).

A safer way to reduce nagging menopause symptoms 

I have long advocated the value of custom-compounded bHRT for women going through menopause. (With an emphasis on bioidentical hormones—designed to precisely match the amounts and types of hormones your body would naturally produce—NOT conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), made from horse urine.)

Bioidentical hormones can work miracles for women suffering from hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. And there’s vast evidence supporting the use of bHRT over conventional HRT.

But I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not for everyone. Anyone who has had an estrogen-related cancer should never use HRT of any sort. Nor should those people with genetic markers for estrogen-related cancers (like the breast cancer gene BRCA, for instance).

These women already have much a higher risk of developing breast cancer. So the risks of HRT—bioidentical or otherwise—far outweigh the benefits. Because adding more estrogen to the mix can be like throwing fuel on a fire.

But the good news is, if you’re at risk for estrogen-related cancer—or you simply aren’t interested in hormone therapy—you still have options. And two all-star supplements top my list…

A natural “cooling” combo

Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) is one of my all-time favorite supplements—and has been for years. It’s a blockbuster antioxidant that boosts heart health, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, and improves skin tone and mental performance—all health concerns that really rise to the forefront after menopause.

And now, several studies show that it’s a safe bet to relieve hot flashes, too.2 I recommend 100 mg daily.

Black cohosh is an herb with reams of research showing it has powerful and fast-acting effects on hot flashes.

In fact, one study of 84 postmenopausal women found that the women who took black cohosh once a day had significant reductions in both the number of hot flashes and their severity. And this happened within just four weeks of first taking the herb.3

I recommend 40 mg of black cohosh daily.

You can choose one of the two, or you can combine black cohosh and French maritime pine bark extract, which studies also show can provide significant relief for hot flashes.4

Break a different kind of sweat

Believe it or not, research also shows that breaking a sweat with some heart-pumping physical activity can actually help curb the sweats from hot flashes. In fact, a recent study conducted in Finland researchers found that middle-aged women who exercise regularly report a higher quality of life and fewer symptoms of menopause compared to more sedentary women.5

The researchers’ definition of “physically active” applied to women who put in 2.5 hours of moderate activity (like fast-paced walking) per week or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity (such as jogging or running) per week. The physically active women also did strength or balance training at least twice a week.

Fifty-one percent of the participants met the definition of being physically active. And these women reported better self-perceived health and overall quality of life than other women their age.

On the other hand, the less active women were more likely to suffer from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. They were also more likely to experience other problems, such as anxiety, depression, memory problems, and body aches and pains.

And I can certainly vouch for these study results, as I’ve seen similar results in my own patients. Which is why I prescribe exercise for every single person who sets foot in my office, including menopausal women.

Diet can make all the difference

Of course, warding off night sweats can also be as simple as adjusting what you eat, too. In fact, one Australian study showed that Mediterranean-style eating habits can cut hot flashes and night sweats by over 20 percent.

So if you’re looking for a low-carb, sugar-free, Mediterranean-style—not to mention incredibly delicious and decadent—whole-food eating plan, you’ll find exactly that in my A-List Diet. In fact, I have a specific A-List plan just for menopausal women that can help you look and feel your best, no matter what your hormones throw at you. To learn more or to purchase a copy, visit www.AListDietBook.com.

References:

  1. Zhu D, et al. Vasomotor Menopausal Symptoms and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A pooled analysis of six prospective studies. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Dec;223(6):898.e1-898.e16.
  2. Depypere HT, et al. Herbal preparations for the menopause: beyond isoflavones and black cohosh.” Maturitas. 2014 Feb;77(2):191-4.
  3. Shahnazi M, et al. “Effect of black cohosh (cimicifuga racemose) on vasomotor symptoms in postmenopausal women: a randomized clinical trial.” J Caring Sci. 2013 Jun 1;2(2):105-13.
  4. Ismail R, et al. “Effects of herbal preparations on symptom clusters during the menopausal transition.” Climacteric. 2015 Feb;18(1):11-28.
  5. Mansikkamäki K, et al. “Physical activity and menopause-related quality of life – A population-based cross-sectional study.” Maturitas 2015; 80(1):69-74

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