Post-menopausal women still unaware of possible health risks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 2016, 12:16am

According to the Census and Statistics Department (2015), 31 per cent of women in Hong Kong were at the stage of menopause with ages ranging from 45 to 55.

A survey of 109 post-menopausal Hong Kong women aged 49 to 65, conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, found that 39 per cent of them had metabolic syndrome, that is, a cluster of conditions that raises the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems.

To be specific ­­ – 77 per cent of them had central obesity (waist circumference greater than 80cm); 50 per cent had an abnormally high sugar level; 41 per cent had hypertension; 30 per cent had decreased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (the good cholesterol), and 22 per cent had increased triglyceride. According to the definition of the American Heart Association, one in four post-menopausal women in this survey is at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

This indicates an urgent need to intervene to improve the cardiovascular health of this group of the population.

The survey also found that 60 per cent of the women suffered from hot flashes, 45 per cent from night sweats, and 46 per cent from excessive sweating. Most importantly, the majority of them (73 per cent) had poor sleep quality.

On average, they spent 27 minutes trying to get to sleep and slept for six hours a night. The most common sleep disturbances were going to the toilet at night, waking up early and not being able to fall asleep within 30 minutes. The poor quality of sleep they are experiencing deserves attention.

Although 79 per cent of the women in this survey had received secondary education or above, they only provided correct answers to 53 per cent of the questions relating to health literacy. Health literacy reflects the ability of an individual to understand health-related information; it is a critical factor when making decisions about your health and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Someone can have a good level of education, but not a high level of health literacy.

The deficiency in health literacy revealed in the survey indicates a pressing need for an effective education programme to be introduced to promote the overall health of post-menopausal women in Hong Kong.

Chair Sek-ying, director and professor, Dr Apple Cheng and Dr Wang Qun, postdoctoral fellows, Nethersole School of Nursing, Chinese University of Hong Kong