The incidence of metabolic syndrome increases substantially during perimenopause and early menopause. Postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of hypertension, proatherogenic lipid changes, diabetes, and severe cardiovascular disease as compared with their premenopausal counterparts. Whether or not menopause has a causative contribution to the deteriorating metabolic profile that is independent of chronological aging has been a subject of many studies. Menopausal transition is associated with significant weight gain (2 to 2.5 kg over 3 years on average), which is not dissimilar to that in premenopausal women of like age. Concomitantly, there is an increase in abdominal adiposity and a decrease in energy expenditure, phenomena that have been postulated to explain the higher risk of metabolic syndrome and increases in cholesterol and triglycerides. Hypertension and diabetes become more prevalent with age and should be timely diagnosed and treated. Lifestyle changes including moderately decreased caloric intake and aerobic exercise could prevent proatherogenic changes and weight gain observed with aging. Accurate prediction of cardiovascular risk in midlife women is essential to help identify the subset of women who are likely to benefit from intensive management of metabolic risk factors. This review focuses on metabolic changes associated with menopausal transition, specifically alterations in weight, waist circumference, body fat distribution, energy expenditure, and circulating biomarkers including adipokines.
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