By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When should women worry most about preventing heart disease?

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According to a report from Wake Forest, the time to start protecting your heart and guarding against bone loss is during perimenopause or, preferably, even earlier.

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Perimenopause is the years prior to menopause when estrogen levels start to decline and the hormonal balance changes. So, what leading experts have suggested is that in your mid-thirties you should begin a self-assessment and medical report card. Develop a plan with your doctor for your overall health, diet, and lifestyle for the second half of your life. Most importantly, try to reduce stress, eat well, and exercise.

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All of these things can be very helpful when it comes to your overall health, even fighting osteoporosis.