A study has found that as women begin to enter menopause, their risk of developing a collection of risk factors for heart disease appears to climb.

Researchers found that among 949 U.S. women followed for nearly a decade, the risk of developing metabolic syndrome increased during perimenopause — the years during which a woman’s body begins to transition into menopause, usually starting somewhere in her 40s.

metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to this cluster of risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes — including high blood pressure (high blood pressure diet) abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, low levels of ”good” HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides (another type of blood fat).

The syndrome is usually diagnosed when a person has three or more of these traits.

The new findings, appear to be the first showing that the incidence of metabolic syndrome begins to rise during perimenopause.

More specifically, the study found, the risk is related to increases in testosterone activity.

The “main message” here for women is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be especially critical during perimenopause, lead researcher Dr. Imke Janssen, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told Reuters Health.

Read more at MSNBC