Arteriosclerosis could develop in women with the menopause depending on the duration of their menstrual cycle which often becomes longer. The timing of these changes could provide clues to a person’s risk of developing heart disease, according to a study conducted by researchers fromUniversity of Pittsburgh.
There Research was published in the scientific journal Menopause
Premenopause and arteriosclerosis: this is what the study says
The research took i changes in cycle length during the transition from childbearing age to menopause and revealed that women whose longest cycles two years before their final menstrual period had better measures of vascular health than those who had stable cycle lengths during this transition.
In combination with other menopause-related health features and measures, changes in cycle length could help doctors predict which patients might be at higher or lower risk for arteriosclerosis and recommend preventative strategies.
“Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of women and the risk increases significantly after middle age, which is why we think menopause could contribute to this disease.“Said the lead author Samar El Khoudary, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health.
“Menopause isn’t just a click of a button. It is a multistage transition where women experience many changes that could put them at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Change in cycle length, which is linked to hormone levels, is a simple metric that could tell us that we are most at risk.“, Explained the expert.
“The average length of a menstrual cycle is around 28 days, but it can vary greatly among women. Those with frequent short cycles spend more time with high estrogen levels than those with fewer long cycles, and this variation in hormone levels could explain why long and irregular cycles during the reproductive years have been linked to cardiovascular disease, arteriosclerosis, cancer at the breast, osteoporosis and other diseases “.
El Khoudary and his team wondered whether changes in cycle length during the menopause transition could also predict future cardiovascular health. To answer this question, The researchers analyzed data from 428 participants enrolled in the ongoing women’s health study nationwide.
The study followed women aged between 45 and 52 years at the time of enrollment up to 10 years or until postmenopause. Researchers collected data on the menstrual cycle during the menopause transition and assessed cardiovascular risk after menopause by measuring arterial stiffness or artery thickness.
The researchers noted three distinct trajectories in the length of the menstrual cycle during the menopause transition. About 62% of participants had stable cycles that did not change appreciably before menopause, while about 16% and 22% experienced an early or late rise., defined as an increase in cycle length five or two years before their final menstrual period, respectively.
Compared to women with stable cycles, those in the late augmentation group had significantly more favorable measures of artery hardness and thickness, indicating a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Women in the early augmentation group had the poorest measures of arterial health.
“These findings are important because they show that we cannot treat women as one group: women have different menstrual cycle trajectories during the menopause transition and this trajectory appears to be an indicator of vascular health.“Said El Khoudary. “This information adds to the toolkit we are developing for doctors who care for middle-aged women to assess the risk of atherosclerosis and brings us closer to customizing prevention strategies ”.
Researchers speculate that menstrual cycle trajectories during menopause reflect hormone levels which in turn contribute to cardiovascular health. In future work, they plan to evaluate hormonal changes to test this hypothesis.
According to El Khoudary, it is unclear why the risk of cardiovascular disease was higher in participants with stable cycles than in the late rising group. Although research suggests that the high estrogen content may protect the heart in young women with short cycles, this hormone may be less protective in old age.
El Khoudary also wants to explore whether menstrual cycle patterns are linked to other cardiovascular risk factors such as abdominal fat, which he had previously found to be associated with heart disease risk in postmenopausal women.
Atherosclerosis is a potentially serious condition in which the arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques or atheroma. These plaques cause arteries to harden and narrow, restricting blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs and increasing the risk of blood clots that could potentially block their flow to the heart or brain.
Atherosclerosis doesn’t tend to have any symptoms at first, and many people may not be aware they have it, but it can eventually cause life-threatening problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, if it gets worse.There illness However it is largely preventable if you adopt a healthy lifestyle thus helping to reduce the risk of serious problems occurring.
If neglected, atherosclerosis can lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases Which:
Coronary heart disease: the main arteries supplying the heart (the coronary arteries) become clogged with plaques;
Angina: short periods of dull, severe chest pain caused by coronary artery disease, which may precede a heart attack;
Heart attack: where the blood supply to the heart is blocked, causing sudden crushing or indigestion-like chest pain that can radiate to nearby areas, as well as shortness of breath and dizziness;
Stroke: where the blood supply to the brain is cut off, causing the face to sag on 1 side, weakness on 1 side of the body and slurred speech;
Transient ischemic attack: where there are temporary symptoms of a stroke:
Peripheral arterial disease: where the blood supply to the legs is blocked, causing pain in the legs when walking.