Some women who hit menopause before attaining the age of 40 years are reportedly more at risk of heart disease.
Researchers in the United States (U.S.) and the United Kingdom (UK) have found that women, who experienced early menopause before attaining 40 years, may face an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
According to the findings of their new study published in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) while premature menopause significantly increased the risk for coronary artery disease, heart failure, blood clots, and heart valve problems, the research team found no increased risk for stroke or peripheral artery disease, which is a circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs.
To this end, senior study author, Dr. Pradeep Natarajan who is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard, called on clinicians to incorporate natural and surgical menopausal age in their risk discussions and risk reduction plans to address cardiovascular disease in women.
This is based on observations that medical doctors don’t ask about menopause history in cardiovascular risk assessment, according to the senior study author. He, however, expressed the hope that greater awareness would help address this.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. It’s usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of blood clots.
The average age of women at the time of menopause is 51 years. The most common age range at which women experience menopause is 48 to 55 years. Menopause is more likely to occur at a slightly earlier age in women who smoke, and those that have never been pregnant, according to medical experts.
Using a British health database, the team studied records of 144,260 postmenopausal women, average age around 60 years. Among them, 4,904, or 3.4 percent, had reached menopause before 40 naturally; 644 had gone into early menopause because they had oophorectomies or surgical removal of the ovaries.
The ‘New York Times’ reported that during an average follow-up of seven years, six percent of women who reached menopause naturally before 40 developed cardiovascular diseases, as did 7.6 percent of women who had oophorectomies before 40.
During the study period, only 3.9 percent of those who reached menopause after 40 years developed cardiovascular disease, the study showed.
Overall, compared with women who reached menopause after 40, those who reached menopause earlier either naturally or by surgery were at significantly increased risk for first cardiovascular disease diagnosis, reported the ‘New York Times.’