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Early Menopause Linked to Cardiovascular Disease and Stoke.
September 19 2012 -
A new study suggests women who experience early menopause are twice as likely to suffer from coronary heart disease and stroke.
The study, published in the journal Menopause, reported the association is the same in a variety of different ethnic backgrounds and is separate from conventional heart disease and stroke risk factors.
Researchers noted that it is important for women to avoid early menopause as much as possible. Dhananjay Vaidya, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and leader of the study, says, "If physicians know a patient has entered menopause before her 46th birthday, they can be extra vigilant in making recommendations and providing treatments to help prevent heart attack and stroke,"
“Research has shown that smokers reach menopause, on average, two years earlier than non-smokers do, so quitting smoking may delay it” says Vaidya.
The study also found the negative impact was the same when women began menopause early by hysterectomies."Perhaps ovary removal can be avoided in more instances," Vaidya says, “which might protect patients from heart disease and stroke by delaying the onset of menopause.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one killer of females in the United States. When women enter menopause it is imperative that healthcare providers check them thoroughly for cardiovascular risk factors.
Earlier studies have shown a link between early menopause and heart disease and stroke among white females, but similar associations had not been demonstrated in more diverse populations, says Vaidya. Hispanic and African-American females, he says, tend, on average, to go through menopause earlier than females of European descent.
The study examined data from 2509 women involved in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a longitudinal, ethnically diverse cohort study of men and women aged 45 to 84 years, all enrolled between 2000 and 2002 and followed until 2008.Of the females, 28 percent reported early menopause, or menopause that occurs before the age of 46. Vaidya emphasizes that although the risk of heart attack and stroke was doubled in these groups, the actual number of cardiac and stroke events recorded among study participants was small. Only 50 females in the study suffered heart attacks, while 37 had strokes.
Many women control the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Following the halting of the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trials, which associated an increased risk of cardiovascular disease with these hormones, widespread long-term use of HRT has been limited. In Vaidya's study, no role was detected for HRT in potentially modifying the impact of early menopause.