Menopause is often a turning point for women’s health worldwide. Increasing knowledge from experimental data and clinical studies indicates that cardiometabolic changes can manifest at the menopausal transition, superimposing the effect of ageing onto the risk of cardiovascular disease. The menopausal transition is associated with an increase in fat mass (predominantly in the truncal region), an increase in insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia, and endothelial dysfunction. Exposure to endogenous oestrogen during the reproductive years provides women with protection against cardiovascular disease, which is lost around 10 years after the onset of menopause. In particular, women with vasomotor symptoms during menopause seem to have an unfavourable cardiometabolic profile. Early management of the traditional risk factors of cardiovascular disease (ie, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, dyslipidaemia, and smoking) is essential; however, it is important to recognise in the reproductive history the female-specific conditions (ie, gestational hypertension or diabetes, premature ovarian insufficiency, some gynaecological diseases such as functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea, and probably others) that could enhance the risk of cardiovascular disease during and after the menopausal transition. In this Review, the first of a Series of two papers, we provide an overview of the literature for understanding cardiometabolic changes and the management of women at midlife (40-65 years) who are at higher risk, focusing on the identification of factors that can predict the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. We also summarise evidence about preventive non-hormonal strategies in the context of cardiometabolic health.
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