Onset of Menopause can increase risk of heart disease

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - “I take a coated aspirin, one a day, 81 milligrams, well I am hoping that it will prevent me from getting a heart attack or stroke,” says Ruth Toritto.

She obviously is doing everything she can to ward off a heart attack or stroke.

But a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has pointed to a risk factor over which Ruth has no control. The study found a shorter reproductive period in a woman' life--meaning the time between onset of menstruation and the beginning of menopause-- increased a woman's chance of developing heart disease.

“There are endogenous hormones that play a role in this, but there is a question at what point do these endogenous hormones-- estrogen, progesterone-- cause changes the systems are looking into. And what kicks these hormones into having these effects? So those are issues we have yet to figure out,” says Dr. Neda Etezadi, Interim Chairman of the OBGYN program at the University of Nevada Reno Medical School.

The study showed child birth had an impact on a woman's risk for heart disease as well, meaning if the woman had no children, she increased her risk of heart disease. And in this study the risk was for diastolic heart failure, where the left side of the heart does not relax as it should.

Early menstruation, researchers say, is defined as before age 12--early onset of menopause is defined as occurring before age 47.

These are risk factors for women, and risk factors they have no control over. Dr. Etezadi says with this information it's best to focus on what can be controlled-- like obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking.
Consider 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.

This new research is something more for physicians and patients to consider when looking at heart disease risks.