Menopausal women may see their risk of cardiovascular disease increase with the frequency and severity of their symptoms, according to a study published in the journal Menopause.
American researchers have found a correlation between menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and mood disorders, and the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death among women.
More frequent and severe symptoms and poor quality of life have been associated with arterial stiffness and vascular dysfunction, two markers of cardiovascular disease, the study reports.
On the other hand, no association was found with depressive symptoms in the 138 women in the study, regardless of the stage of menopause.
In addition, the frequency of hot flashes — and not their degree of intensity — was specifically associated with higher arterial stiffness and reduced endothelial function (blood vessel elasticity), the study says.
“With the fluctuation and decline of estrogen at the time of menopause, it is important to control mood, blood pressure, blood lipids, blood sugar and body composition (fat mass, lean mass) because of increased risk of abdominal fat,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Virginia and director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
To get through this healthy lifestyle change usually between the ages of 45 and 55, a balanced diet and regular exercise are recommended. The benefits/risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be discussed with one’s doctor in a personalized way, the study concludes.