Reproductive years

Heart disease survivor Carissa

The reproductive years occur from when a woman first menstruates to when they begin to experience the effects of perimenopause. During these reproductive years, women are at lower risk for heart conditions and stroke than men. Estrogen tends to be a protective factor for women.

During this stage, several factors can affect a woman’s long-term heart and brain health. For example, getting a first period early (before age 12) or late (after age 14), very irregular menstrual cycles, and premature menopause (before age 45) are associated with an increased risk of developing heart conditions or stroke earlier in life.

Hormonal contraceptives, fertility treatments, and pregnancy-related disorders such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes can affect a woman’s risk.

Depression may start early in life and often goes undiagnosed which may increase risk for future heart conditions and stroke.

This is an important phase for women to become aware of their health, both physical and emotional risks, as many actions and decisions made now will have a direct impact on future health.

Women’s life stages and risk factors