The severity of your menopausal symptoms could determine your risk for heart disease, according to a new study published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
While the study didn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship between menopausal symptoms and heart disease, it's “yet another important study which highlights gender-specific risk factors for heart disease,” said Dr Rachel Bond, who direct women's heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Dr Bond, who wasn't involved in the new study, said the findings should “encourage physicians to take a more thorough history of menopausal symptoms” to help prevent heart issues. Keep reading for more.
New study finds a link between severity of menopausal symptoms and heart disease risk
The study was led by Kerrie Moreau of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. To reach their findings, Moreau’s team tracked outcomes of 138 menopausal women in order to compare symptoms, mood and quality of life with key markers of ‘vascular ageing
’ – the condition of ageing
The team found that in all stages of menopause, artery stiffening and dysfunction of blood vessels were each linked to more frequent and severe menopausal symptoms as well as a lower quality of life among women.
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While past studies have found a strong link between hot flashes and increased risk for heart disease
and death, this study found that frequency rather than severity of hot flashes was specifically associated with greater arterial stiffening and blood vessel function.
One expert said the findings weren’t surprising given the role of oestrogen in heart health
Commenting on the findings of the study, Dr Jill Rabin, who helps direct Women’s Health Programs at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, said they weren’t surprising considering the role that oestrogen plays in heart health.
Oestrogen is “a powerful antioxidant and mediator of vascular health through its effect on another hormone, serotonin, which helps regulate our temperate controls, nerves and cardiovascular system,” Dr Rabin explained.
Dr Rabin believes that dips in oestrogen levels during menopause might account for changes in heart risks. Therefore, “hot flashes may provide an actual mirror of women’s vascular risk,” she said.
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