Long Term Care

How Sex Hormones Affect Your Heart Health

Hormones affect nearly every tissue or organ system in the body, including your cardiovascular system. To learn more about sex hormones and their impact on your heart health, keep scrolling down.

What Are Sex Hormones?

Sex hormones are made in the ovaries in women, in the testes in men, and in the adrenal glands for both sexes. They are responsible for a range of bodily functions, including sexual development, reproduction, hair growth, and body fat distribution. The two main types of female sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. While testosterone is considered a male hormone, females produce a small amount as well. Your level of each hormone depends on your age, gender, diet, weight, and environment.

How Do Sex Hormones Affect Your Heart Health?

For post-menopausal women, an imbalance in sex hormone levels, or a high ratio of male-type to female-type hormones, may increase heart disease risk. In women, estrogen has also been shown to play a protective role by keeping blood vessels flexible and supporting efficient blood circulation.

For men, high testosterone levels can drastically increase a man's risk of heart failure and blood clots. Conversely, men with low testosterone levels are also at higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of Heart Disease

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

  • 1. Palpitations
  • Heart palpitations are feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart. In rare cases, palpitations can signal a more serious condition.
  • 2. Shortness of breath
  • Treatable heart conditions, including coronary heart disease, can cause breathlessness. If your shortness of breath is accompanied by swelling in your feet and ankles, call your doctor.
  • 3. Pressure in chest
  • If you experience any pain, pressure, or discomfort in the center of your chest, seek immediate medical care. Chest pressure may be caused by heart problems such as decreased oxygen supply, irregular heartbeat, or heart attack.
  • 4. Headaches
  • Migraine headaches can be a warning sign of a heart attack. If your headache is accompanied with sensory symptoms such as flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling in your hands, call your doctor.
  • 5. Dizziness
  • Dizziness can indicate feeling faint, weak, or unsteady. Dizziness can indicate poor blood circulation, which is associated with certain heart conditions.

How to Prevent Heart Disease

The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of getting heart disease is to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and avoid nicotine products. The best diet for preventing heart disease is one rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils. To learn more about how to reduce your risk of heart disease, click here.