While researchers have found how early menopause can be linked with heart disease, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland explored how the presence of these symptoms after menopause could be cause for concern.
The researchers learned that vasomotor symptoms (VMS), which include night sweats and hot flashes, increase the risk for cardiovascular disease among postmenopausal women.
“Until now, it’s been unclear if VMS is associated with cardiovascular disease, but now we know it to be true,” said researcher Dr. Dongshan Zhu.
Identifying the risks
The researchers analyzed data from the InterLACE Consortium and looked primarily at six studies that included information from over 23,000 women.
Study participants reported on how severe and how often they experienced hot flashes and night sweats, when they experienced them (before or after menopause), and how long they lasted. The researchers also looked at the participants’ medical records to determine how such symptoms affected their cardiovascular health.
The study revealed that there certainly was a relationship between VMS and cardiovascular disease. The biggest factor that came into play was the severity of these symptoms. Women who reported extreme episodes of night sweats or hot flashes were more likely to have a cardiovascular issue than those whose symptoms weren’t as severe but occurred more frequently or lasted longer.
“We found that women with severe VMS were more than twice as likely to experience a non-fatal cardiovascular event compared with women who had no symptoms,” said Dr. Zhu.
The researchers explained that menopause, and more specifically the way sex hormones change at this point in life, increases women’s risk of heart disease and cardiovascular health. Because these symptoms are so common among women, the researchers hope that these findings can help them, and their medical professionals, be more aware of the risks associated with them.
“This research helps to identify women who are at a higher risk for the development of cardiovascular events and who may need close monitoring in clinical practice,” said researcher Gita Mishra.