A small study looking at the connection between hot flashes and heart disease has just been published in the online journal Menopause. According to the findings of the study conducted by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) frequent hot flushes during menopause could be a sign of increased risk of heart disease.
The study examined 272 women between the ages of 40 and 60 who reported having hot flashes either daily or not at all. The women did not smoke and had no history of CVD (cardiovascular disease).
Although the study is small it is an important one with a serious message.
Hot flashes/flushes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. New data has indicated that hot flashes can start much earlier than previously thought, beginning during the late reproductive years. They can continue for ten years and longer, vary in severity and can have an impact on health and quality of life.
The study shows younger midlife women (age 40-53 years) having frequent hot flashes may also signal emerging vascular dysfunction that can lead to heart disease. This is due to the hot flashes impacting on the ability of blood vessels to dilate among younger women.
Women aged between 54 and 60 do not seem to have this issue which would indicate that when hot flashes occur earlier they could have an effect on a women’s heart disease risk.
The study looks at the association between hot flashes and endothelial function. The endothelium is a layer of cells that line the inside of the blood vessels. The assessment of endothelial function is considered a key factor in predicting atherosclerosis which is a form of CVD that affects the blood vessels’ ability to dilate and contract. If left untreated, atherosclerosis can lead to more serious cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.
Dr JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS said: “Hot flushes are not just a nuisance. They have been linked to cardiovascular, bone, and brain health. In this study, physiologically measured hot flushes appear linked to cardiovascular changes occurring early during the menopause transition.”
These findings were independent of any other heart disease risk factors, which suggests that more research is needed to assess the full physical impact of hot flushes and how they may affect other risk factors.
The study’s findings could offer valuable information to doctors when it comes to assessing the chances of heart disease among women going through menopause.
The American Heart Association recommends a few simple tests that can help to detect cardiovascular risk factors in their early stages. The screening tests generally recommended are:
- Fasting Lipoprotein Profile (Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, & LDL)
- Blood Pressure
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Blood Glucose
- Smoking, physical activity, diet
The study outcomes are published online in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
Thurston.Rebecca C, PhD et al (April 2017) Physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial function among midlife women. Retrived from http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/publishahead/Physiologically_assessed_hot_flashes_and.97797.aspx
Heart Health Screenings. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Heart-Health-Screenings_UCM_428687_Article.jsp#.WQCZyca1vIU