PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At menopause, typically around age 50, the ovaries shut down and a woman’s hormones change.

In particular, the level of a form of estrogen called estradiol drops. A recent study shows this could be bad news in terms of cholesterol.

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But not all women are concerned about their cholesterol later in life.

“I’m 74 and my cholesterol is good,” says one woman in Market Square.

“It’s just nothing I ever worried about,” says another.

“I’m actually vegan, so I feel pretty healthy, so I don’t really have a problem with my cholesterol,” remarks another.

A recent study done at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health shows menopause is a particular time for cholesterol concern.

Researchers used a special detection method to look at lipoproteins in 120 women, average age 50.

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Lipoproteins carry cholesterol particles. Low density lipoproteins, or LDL, carry bad cholesterol, which contributes to clogged, stiff arteries.

The study shows as estrogen levels fall, the LDL particles become smaller, making it easier for bad cholesterol to build up in smaller and smaller blood vessels.

This suggests there may be more to cholesterol than our current, standard panel of testing, but more study using this special technique will be needed before it becomes a mainstream measure.

What to do about this isn’t as simple as supplementing estrogen, as other studies have shown hormone replacement therapy is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

While you can’t do anything about the arrival of menopause, waiting for it to happen to take care of your blood vessels may be too late.

It’s better to eat a heart healthy diet, exercise five days a week, and check cholesterol and blood pressure every year starting at least by age 35.

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