Menopause, the metabolic syndrome, and mind-body therapies

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Abstract

Cardiovascular disease risk rises sharply with menopause, likely due to the coincident increase in insulin resistance and related atherogenic changes that together comprise the metabolic or insulin resistance syndrome, a cluster of metabolic and hemodynamic abnormalities strongly implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of cardiovascular disease. A growing body of research suggests that traditional mind-body practices such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong may offer safe and cost-effective strategies for reducing insulin resistance syndrome-related risk factors for cardiovascular disease in older populations, including postmenopausal women. Current evidence suggests that these practices may reduce insulin resistance and related physiological risk factors for cardiovascular disease; improve mood, well-being, and sleep; decrease sympathetic activation; and enhance cardiovagal function. However, additional rigorous studies are needed to confirm existing findings and to examine long-term effects on cardiovascular health.

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