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Menopause, the metabolic syndrome, and mind-body therapies

Innes, Kim E. MSPH, PhD; Selfe, Terry Kit DC, PhD; Taylor, Ann Gill MS, EdD

doi: 10.1097/01.gme.0b013e318166904e
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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.

Cardiovascular disease risk increases sharply with menopause, likely due to the coincident increase in insulin resistance and related atherogenic changes associated with the insulin resistance syndrome. There is growing evidence 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.

From the Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, VA.

Received November 8, 2007; revised and accepted December 27, 2007.

Funding/support: This work was made possible by the University of Virginia Institute on Aging, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Office of Women's Health (grant R21AT002982 and K01AT004108) and the National Center for Research Resources (grant M01 RR 00030-32). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official views of the University of Virginia or the National Institutes of Health.

Financial disclosure: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Kim E. Innes, MSPH, PhD, The Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, PO Box 800905, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0905. E-mail: kei6n@virginia.edu

©2008The North American Menopause Society