Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and both men and women are equally susceptible to heart problems. One of the differences between the sexes is in the age they are commonly affected by cardiovascular issues – women tend to develop problems at a later age than men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new study may have found the reason for the late onset development of heart disease in women.
Researchers at the William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary, University of London, recently studied the effects of estrogen on the immune system. They found that the sex hormone plays an important role in preventing white blood cells from getting stuck inside blood vessels – a process that can lead to blockages and heart disease.
"Our research suggests that estrogen helps maintain the delicate balance between fighting infections and protecting arteries from damage that can lead to cardiovascular disease," said lead researcher Dr. Suchita Nadkarni.
Estrogen levels begin to decrease gradually as a woman enters menopause, and without the hormone, the risk of heart disease grows. Post-menopausal women can take precautionary measures and invest in personal emergency response systems so they can get help if they experience medical problems.