Professor Philip Sarrel, MD, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA, told the audience at this years ‘The Midlife Festival’ – a free 5 day online event run by The Latte Lounge (an online platform for women over 40), that menopausal hot flushes are far more than just ‘an inconvenience’.
During his session, one of 27 interviews with some of the UK and World’s leading medical, health and wellbeing experts, Professor Sarrel explained that the most recent data showed that the increase in women dying of heart attacks was staggering, and with 1 out of 2 dying from cardiovascular disease, it was now the leading cause of death in women.
He went on to say that results from an important US study showed that women, prior to menopause, had very low risk of cardiovascular disease, but after menopause, the numbers became equal to men.
Commenting on why this is, he said:
“One of the major causes of cardiovascular disease in women is low oestrogen levels, which have a huge impact on the metabolism of cholesterol.
Menopause symptoms such as hot flushes are a warning sign that something is out of balance. They cause a sudden release of adrenaline, which normally our arteries can control, however bad cholesterol, post menopause, can stop the arteries performing efficiently, causing them to spasm. Oestrogen helps prevent spasm in arteries and also reduces the calcium in the arterial wall.
Therefore the way to reduce risk is to understand the importance of good and bad cholesterol. HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol. When a woman goes through menopause she should therefore have a measure taken of her good and bad cholesterol, as about 40% will be very vulnerable.”
For those that can and want to take it, HRT in women who are vulnerable, can therefore be life saving. The earlier you start, the better, as evidence shows that it can reduce the risk for osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia. However, there is a window of opportunity to take HRT, starting before the age 60, for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
It is important to note that young women, who have had a hysterectomy, and are therefore plunged into menopause instantly, should be given oestrogen only therapy immediately.
For those that can’t or don’t want to take HRT, after an informed discussion with their health care provider explaining the benefits vs risks, there are many other medical and lifestyle factors that we can consider, to act as a deterrent.
A statement from the American Heart association shows that evidence supports the cardiovascular benefits of HRT.”Joining Prof Sarrel, during the free, week long online event to mark Menopause Awareness Month, were Professor Tim Spector, Professor Nick Panay, Dr Haitham Hamoda and TV Presenters Davina McCall and Nadia Sawalha.
‘The Midlife Festival’ (themidlifefestival.com) ran from 10-14 October 2022 to co-incide with Menopause and Breast Cancer awareness month. It brought together 27 well-known speakers and leading medical experts, to share their knowledge, wisdom and top tips on how women can lead a healthier, happier and more positive life through their 40s, 50s and beyond.
More than 12,000 women attended the festival, with overwhelming praise for Professor Sarrels session:
A response from one of the attendees on The Latte Lounge Facebook Group said:
“Its shocking that some of this information about womens heart health after menopause has been known for over 80 years and yet still nothing has been done. Professor Sarrel is like the ‘Attenborough’ of Menopause, every medic, every woman and every man needs to know about this NOW”.
“Professor Sarrels interview blew me away, think of the saving to the NHS if we reduced the number of bypass surgeries alone. This needs to be streamed on mainstream TV so everyone understands that HRT, for those that can and want to take it, is not just about mitigating nasty menopause symptoms, its about saving lives!”
The Festival was created in 2021 by The Latte Lounge, founded in 2016 by Katie Taylor after her own debilitating perimenopausal symptoms were misdiagnosed as depression. Forced to give up her career, she set out to ensure that no other woman would suffer in the same way that she did.
Katie says:“The Midlife Festival was created in order to make menopause a normal topic of conversation, helping to break down the taboos, whilst educating women about the different symptoms they can experience, and providing them with simple, evidenced based information, to enable them to make an informed choice with their Health Care Providers, about their treatment options..”
“We’re finally seeing a seismic shift in the narrative around what it means to be a woman in your 40s, 50s and beyond.
“For too long, midlife women have been made to feel invisible in society, have suffered in silence with often debilitating symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, whilst taking on their fair share of the ‘sandwich generation’ burden – juggling caring for children and ageing parents, while also trying to manage their work and home lives too.
‘“The Midlife Festival’ is about shining a spotlight on the woman in the middle, amplifying our voices, and celebrating all the positives that this next stage in our lives has to offer.”Speakers at the free five-day event, included:
Davina McCall – TV Broadcaster and passionate menopause campaigner
Kat Farmer – Fashion Stylist, Blogger and Author of The Sunday Times Bestseller – Get Changed
Nadia Sawalha – TV Personality, Actress and YouTuber
Ruby Hammer MBE – Global Makeup Artist, Brand Founder and Beauty Expert
Prof. Tim Spector OBE – Epidemiologist, Author of The Sunday Times Bestseller – Spoon Fed and Co-Founder of the Zoe app
Emma Bardwell – Nutritionist and Health Writer, Co-Author of The Perimenopause Solution
Lavina Mehta MBE – Personal Trainer & Wellness Coach
Dr Joanna Franks – Consultant General Surgeon specialising in breast and oncoplastic surgery
Jacynth Bassett – Award winning Founder and CEO of The Bias Cut, the first truly age-inclusive online style boutique and the movement ‘Ageism Is Never In Style®
Dani Binnington – Wellbeing Expert, Yoga Teacher, Podcaster and Founder of the ‘Superfood Supperclub’
Prof. Nick Panay – Consultant Gynaecologist with a special interest in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery, Menopause and Menstrual Disorders
Petra Coveney – Yoga Teacher & Trainer, Founder of Menopause Yoga™ and Author of ‘Menopause Yoga – a holistic guide to supporting women on their menopause journey,’
Dr Shahzadi Harper – GP, Founder of The Harper Clinic and Co Author of The Perimenopause Solution
Alison Jensen-Goodall – Clarins Virtual Boutique Beauty Coach Specialist
Dr Shirin Lakhani – GP, Award-Winning Aesthetic Dr & Women’s Health Advocate Embarrassing Bodies 2022
Dr Haitham Hamoda – Consultant Gynaecologist and Subspecialist in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery
Dr Hélène Menagé – Consultant Dermatologist
Prof. Philip Sarrel – Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine
Kate Moryoussef – Womens ADHD Lifestyle Coach, EFT Practitioner and Podcaster
Ani Naqvi – Holistic Transformational Coach, Survivor of the Asian Tsunami and Founder of The Ultimate Results Group
Dr Aziza Sesay – GP Educator, Mentor and a health prevention and education advocate. ‘Talks with Dr Sesay’
Dr Hannah Short – GP, Accredited Specialist in Menopause & Premenstrual Disorders & Author of The Complete Guide to POI and Early Menopause
Jane Simpson – Continence Nurse Specialist at The London Clinic and author of The Pelvic Floor Bible
Dr Aimee Vyas – Aesthetic Doctor and Educator, Cosmetic Skin Specialist & Co-Founder of the Black Aesthetics Advisory Board
Adele Johnston – Nutritionist and Positive Psychology Coach
Rosie Wilby – Award-winning Comedian, Podcaster and Author of The Breakup Monologues
Dr Tonye Wokoma – Consultant in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Community Gynaecology