Research Article| Volume 17, ISSUE 1, P4-11, January 2023

JCL Roundtable: Lipidology and Women's Health


      In this JCL Roundtable, we bring together three experts to discuss women's cardiovascular health throughout the lifespan, viewed from the standpoint of clinical lipidology. Overall, heart disease leads to one out of every 3 deaths of American women, but unfortunately patient awareness of cardiovascular risk actually has declined since 2009. Younger women are not exempt, since their risk can be increased by smoking, birth control, adverse lifestyle and diet, and genetic disorders. Age at menarche can influence lifetime risk. Polycystic ovary syndrome, noted in 5-13% of women of reproductive age, has been linked to increased cardiovascular risk, partly through atherogenic dyslipidemia. Oral contraception has improved greatly since its introduction, but remains a risk for venous thromboembolism and stroke, particularly in smokers. Fetal nutritional and metabolic requirements in pregnancy impose high vascular demand on the placenta and lead to escalating maternal triglycerides and cholesterol especially in the 3rd trimester. Triglycerides may require special management. Adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with placental dysfunction signal subsequent increased risk for maternal atherosclerotic disease. Early menopause has long been recognized as a risk enhancing factor for atherosclerosis with pathophysiology remaining unclear. The menopause transition represents a period when cardiovascular risk for women increases rapidly and approaches that of men. Current studies are evaluating hormonal changes and even clonal hematopoiesis as potential causes. At the same time, lifestyle habits and routine chronic conditions such as hypertension and obesity/diabetes/metabolic syndrome play a large role and need attention.
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