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How does menopause affect cardiovascular health?
When women go through menopause, a marker for the risk of heart disease deteriorates significantly. This makes it clear that menopause is a critical time for changes in cardiovascular health and that women should pay more attention to cardiac health during the transition to menopause.
A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that in women, the time of entering menopause appears to be linked to the deterioration of a marker for the risk of heart disease. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology".
Risk of cardiovascular diseases increases
When women go through menopause, a marker for the risk of heart disease worsens. So this age is not only a time when women have hot flashes and experience other symptoms of menopause, the risk of heart disease also increases. Significant changes in various clinical measurements of women's physical health indicate that the risk of cardiovascular disease is increasing.
Where did the evaluated data come from?
The analyzed data came from the so-called Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) study. This investigation was carried out between 2001 and 2003. It included two analyzes of early cardiovascular health markers during the study period. Ultimately, 339 women were included in the current study.
What is arterial stiffness?
The study focused on how the so-called arterial stiffness changes during the transition from women to menopause. This relates to the elasticity of the arteries and is measured using the so-called aortic pulse wave velocity. Stiffening of the arteries can then lead to a malfunction in the heart's pumping capacity and blood movement, as well as damage to the heart, kidneys and other organs.
Artery stiffening increased during menopause
The women were medically monitored as part of the SWAN study for a period of 12.5 years or until they reached menopause. On average, stiffening of the arteries in women increased by about 0.9 percent a year up to a year before the last menstruation, then by about 7.5 percent a year, which represents a significant acceleration.
Risk of cardiovascular diseases changed
Despite the fact that arterial stiffness was measured at a single point in time in many women, it was found that the risk of cardiovascular diseases changed significantly in the period around the menopause.
Further effects of menopause
The study follows several other studies that have already linked the menopause transition to the accumulation of heart fat, changes in cholesterol, inflammation and calcification of the coronary arteries, and other risk factors for heart disease. However, the current study cannot explain why these changes occur during the transition to menopause.
More research is needed
It is speculated that the dramatic hormonal changes associated with menopause increase inflammation and affect vascular fat deposition, a hypothesis that should be tested in future studies.
How can women be helped?
Clinical trials will be needed to check whether lifestyle enhancement measures, such as changes in diet or physical activity, medications such as statins or hormone replacement therapy, or even increased screening and preventive measures to strengthen heart health in menopausal women Could be useful.
Women should be informed about the increased risk
The researchers are already of the opinion that women should be made aware that their cardiovascular health is likely to deteriorate during menopause. Therefore, frequent monitoring of cardiovascular risk factors can make sense. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Saad Samargandy, Karen A. Matthews, Maria M. Brooks, Emma Barinas-Mitchell, Jared W. Magnani et al .: Arterial Stiffness Accelerates Within 1 Year of the Final Menstrual Period, in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (published Jan. 23. 2020), Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology