Study: Length of Menstrual Cycles Near Menopause May Predict Heart Health.


Study: Length of Menstrual Cycles Near Menopause May Predict Heart Health.

The length of a woman’s menstrual cycle as she approaches menopause could reflect her future risk for heart disease, researchers report.

Some women’s menstrual cycles become longer as they near menopause, while others’ cycles remain stable. This new study found that those women whose cycle became longer two years before menopause had better measurements of vascular health than those with stable cycles.

“Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women and the risk increases significantly after mid-life, which is why we believe menopause may contribute to the disease,” said study author Samar El Khoudary, associate professor of epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health.

“Menopause is not just a push of a button. It’s a multi-step transition where women experience many changes that could put them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, “she said in a university press release. “The change in cycle length, which is related to hormone levels, is a simple metric that could tell us who is more at risk.”

To investigate this relationship, El Khoudary and her colleagues analyzed data from 428 older US women in an ongoing national study.

About 62% of women had relatively stable cycles before menopause, while about 16% had an early increase in cycle length (five years before menopause) and 22% had a late increase (two years before menopause).

Compared to women with stable cycles, those in the late rise group had significantly better measurements of artery hardness and thickness, indicating a lower risk of heart disease. Women in the early rise group had the poorest artery health.

The study was published in the journal Menopause on Wednesday.

Changes in menstrual cycles during menopause may reflect levels of hormones, which in turn contribute to heart health, the researchers suggested. They plan to test this theory in future research by assessing hormonal changes.

“These results are important because they show that we cannot treat women as a group: women have different menstrual cycles during the menopausal transition, and that history appears to be a marker of vascular health,” said El Khoudary. “This information complements the toolkit we are developing for clinicians working in mid-life women to assess cardiovascular disease risk and brings us closer to personalizing prevention strategies.”

The American Heart Association has more about menopause and heart disease.

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