Common menopause symptoms linked to increased risk of heart attacks, warns study

Common menopause symptoms linked to increased risk of heart attacks, warns study

It is estimated that around 13 million women in the UK are either currently peri- or menopausal.

The lack of knowledge and understanding towards the condition is causing some women to retire from their jobs earlier.

In fact, a poll of 2,000 women commissioned by Koru Kids found 18% were looking to leave their jobs because of symptoms, which equates to roughly 1,057,00 women.

Alongside a significant lack of support for menopausal woman, a new study has found that the duration of a woman’s last menstrual cycle could be increasing her risk for a heart attack or stroke. So what’s the link?

Menopause symptoms

Menopause symptoms commonly include hot flushes or night sweats, with a new study warning these early signs may contribute to an added risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Known as vasomotor symptoms, they see sudden fluctuations in body temperatures among women, with around 75% of menopausal woman experiencing this change.

Now researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have found a potential link between vasomotor symptoms and heart attacks or strokes.

Menstrual cycle could determine heart disease risk
Menopause is synonymous with changes to women’s menstrual cycle length, with periods often becoming longer as we approach the menopause.

The researchers hypothesised that cycle length during the menopause transition could predict future cardiovascular health.

In the study, published recently in the journal Menopause, researchers found a link with regards to timing of the cycle and increased cardiovascular diseases.

Data was analysed from 428 participants aged between 45 and 52 who were enrolled in the ongoing Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.

They were followed for up to 10 years or until postmenopausal, measuring both arterial stiffness or artery thickness.

Participants had either stable cycles that didn’t change before menopause (accounting for 62%), whereas around 16% to 22% experienced either late or early increase in cycle length before their final menstrual period.

Women who experienced longer cycle-length changes two years prior to their final period had better measures of vascular health compared to those who had stable cycles.

Researchers concluded that women in the late-increase group of cycles had more favourable measures of artery hardness and thickness, thereby lowering their risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Women in the early-increase group had the poorest measures of artery health.

The reason why cardiovascular disease risk was higher in women who had stable cycles is not clear.

However, researchers suggest it could come down to having higher oestrogen, which could protect heart health for younger women with shorter cycles.

Oestrogen has been found to be less protective in older age.

“Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, and the risk significantly increases after midlife, which is why we think that menopause could contribute to this disease,” said lead author Dr Samar El Khoudary, associate professor of epidemiology at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health.

“Menopause is not just a click of a button. It’s a multistage transition where women experience many changes that could put them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

“Change in cycle length, which is linked to hormone levels, is a simple metric that might tell us who is more at risk.”

The research further highlights the importance of how woman experience menopause differently with outcomes equally being different.

“Women have different menstrual cycle trajectories over the menopause transition, and this trajectory seems to be a marker of vascular health,” concluded El Khoudary.