Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in women. A
study of 138 menopausal women examined the association of mood, symptoms, and
quality of life measures with the key markers of vascular aging, a major risk
factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Study results are
published online in Menopause, the
journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
It’s no secret that the menopause transition is marked with
a number of adverse health effects, including hot flashes and depression to
vascular aging, which is typically seen as artery stiffening and endothelial
dysfunction. With these problems all occurring around the same time in a
woman’s life, the authors of this latest study sought to determine whether
menopause symptoms and depression are related to CVD.
The results, as reported in the article “Vascular
dysfunction across the stages of the menopausal transition is associated with
menopausal symptoms and quality of life,” confirmed that. Across the stages of
menopause, arterial stiffening and vascular dysfunction were associated with
more frequent and severe menopause symptoms and a lower quality of life. No
association, however, was found with depressive symptoms.
Previous studies have shown an especially strong link
between hot flashes and increased cardiovascular risk and mortality. In this
study, the frequency, but not severity, of hot flashes was specifically
associated with greater arterial stiffening and reduced endothelial function.
“Perimenopausal and early menopausal women are more
vulnerable to increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr JoAnn
Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “With fluctuating and then declining oestrogen
during the menopause transition, it is important to monitor mood, blood
pressure, lipids, blood sugars, and body composition because of the increased
risk of abdominal fat. Healthy eating and exercise are encouraged, with
individualised discussion about benefits and risks of hormone therapy.”
KL, et al. Vascular dysfunction across the stages of the menopausal transition
is associated with menopausal symptoms and quality of life. Menopause.
Published ahead of print 9 April 2018. https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/publishahead/Vascular_dysfunction_across_the_stages_of_the.97583.aspx