Tags: menopause | heart | stroke

Early Menopause ups Stroke, Heart Risks

Thursday, 20 September 2012 11:04 AM

Women who go through menopause early are twice as likely to suffer from coronary heart disease and stroke, new research suggests.
The study, conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found the association regardless of a woman’s ethnic background and other cardiovascular disease risk factors. It also didn’t matter whether the women reached menopause naturally or surgically, through the removal of her reproductive organs.
"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 attacks and stroke," said Dhananjay Vaidya, an assistant professor in the university’s Division of General Internal Medicine who led the study, published in the journal Menopause. "Our results suggest it is also important to avoid early menopause if at all possible."
SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.
For example, he noted, research has shown smokers reach menopause, on average, two years earlier than non-smokers do, so quitting smoking may delay it. Often, he added, women who undergo hysterectomies have their ovaries removed, which precipitates rapid menopause.
"Perhaps ovary removal can be avoided in more instances," Vaidya said, which might delay the onset of menopause.
For the study, Vaidya and his colleagues examined data from 2,509 women aged 45 to 84 years between 2000 and 2008. About 28 percent reported early menopause – before the age of 46. Only 50 women in the study suffered heart events, while 37 had strokes. But Vaidya noted the risk of heart attack and stroke was doubled among those who experienced early menopause.
Menopause is natural event that takes place in most women between the ages of 45 and 55, and can be influenced by a combination of factors including heredity, smoking, diet and exercise.
"Cardiovascular disease processes and risks start very early in life, even though the heart attacks and strokes happen later in life," Vaidya said. "Unfortunately, young women are often not targeted for prevention, because cardiovascular disease is thought to be only attacking women in old age. What our study reaffirms is that managing risk factors when women are young will likely prevent or postpone heart attacks and strokes when they age."
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of American women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.

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Women who go through menopause early are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, new research suggests.
Thursday, 20 September 2012 11:04 AM
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