The risk of developing heart disease and related illnesses climbs as women begin to enter menopause. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center followed nearly 1,000 women for nearly a decade. They tracked metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Indicators include high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high blood sugar and high cholesterol.
The Rush researchers found the risk of developing metabolic syndrome increased during perimenopause, the years during which a woman's body begins to transition into menopause. That usually starts in her 40s.
The new findings are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. They indicate that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be especially critical during perimenopause.