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Early onset menopausal symptoms could predict heart disease

Date:
September 28, 2016
Source:
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Summary:
Women who experience hot flashes and night sweats earlier in life are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared to women with later onset menopausal symptoms, according to research. Up to 80 percent of women experience menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes and night sweats, at some point during the menopause transition.
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Women who experience hot flashes and night sweats earlier in life are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared to women with later onset menopausal symptoms, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published today in the journal, Menopause.

Up to 80 percent of women experience menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes and night sweats, at some point during the menopause transition, said Rebecca Thurston, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.

"We used to think these were annoying symptoms that persist for several years around the final menstrual period and simply affect the quality of life for many women," she said. "However, we now know that these symptoms persist far longer and often start earlier than we previously thought. Our research also suggests that for some women, particularly for younger midlife women, menopausal symptoms might mark adverse changes in the blood vessels during midlife that place them at increased risk for heart disease."

The research indicates that early onset of menopausal symptoms is associated with dysfunction of the endothelium, which is the lining of blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction was measured by assessing flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a noninvasive ultrasound measure of how well the vessel dilates in response to pressure on the wall of the blood vessel.

Dr. Thurston and her colleagues investigated associations between menopausal symptoms and risk for CVD complications among postmenopausal women participating in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation study. A total of 254 postmenopausal women with signs and symptoms of ischemic heart disease were evaluated, and researchers found those who had hot flashes before age 42 to be more likely to have lower FMD, suggesting adverse endothelial changes, as well as higher mortality from heart disease.

"While more work needs to be done to confirm our findings, our research could, one day, help us predict the midlife women who might be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease so that we proactively target these women for early prevention strategies," Dr. Thurston said.


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Materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rebecca C. Thurston, B. Delia Johnson, Chrisandra L. Shufelt, Glenn D. Braunstein, Sarah L. Berga, Frank Z. Stanczyk, Carl J. Pepine, Vera Bittner, Steven E. Reis, Diane V. Thompson, Sheryl F. Kelsey, George Sopko, C. Noel Bairey Merz. Menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular disease mortality in the Womenʼs Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE). Menopause, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000731

Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Early onset menopausal symptoms could predict heart disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160928144439.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2016, September 28). Early onset menopausal symptoms could predict heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160928144439.htm
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Early onset menopausal symptoms could predict heart disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160928144439.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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