Early menopause at a younger age (caused by chemotherapy) increases the risk for heart disease.

Since estrogen helps some breast cancers to grow, Hormone Replacement Therapy (sometimes referred to as HRT) is not advised for those who have had breast cancer.  Be sure all of your health care members are aware you have had breast cancer.  Talk to all of your doctors before taking any medicines, herbal or dietary supplements to help prevent heart disease.  You may have heard of products that are helpful to use instead of hormone replacement.  They act in the body like estrogen does.  These products may not be safe for women who have had breast cancer.  ALWAYS talk with your doctor about any of these products that you are thinking about using, before trying them.

If you have concerns about getting heart disease after the change of life here are a few tips that may help you:

  • Eat smart.  Make sure that what you eat is low in fat and cholesterol.  The American Heart Association says that you should:
  • See that fat makes up no more than 30% of your total caloric intake per day.  The amount of cholesterol you have should be less than 300 mg/day.
  • Replace saturated fats (full-fat milk products, fatty meats, vegetable oils) in your diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats (olive oils, lean meats, fish and skinless poultry).
  • Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • Keep your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes.
  • Lose weight if you are above your ideal body weight.  Even a little weight loss will help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Keep track of your blood pressure readings and cholesterol levels.
  • Take medicine to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol if your doctor orders it.
  • Keep your heart fit by being active (do things that increase your heart rate like fast walking or jogging) for 20-30 minutes or more at least three times a week. Walking has been shown to have the same impact on your cardiovascular health as vigorous running or exercise!
  • Reduce stress in your life.
  • If you smoke, stop.  Smoking puts you at higher risk for many diseases.  These include heart disease, bone loss and lung cancer.
  • Ask your doctor about diet and lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease.

When Do You Need To Seek Help?
Talk to your doctor or nurse when you have concerns.  Be sure to tell them if you or your family has a history of heart disease.  Your health team can give you more help with ways to prevent heart disease after the change of life.

For more information:
American Heart Association (1-800-242-8721)

Useful websites:
American Heart Association
US Food and Drug Administration: Eating for a healthy heart

Download PDF

< Return To Expert Answers