The good news is that health professionals are doing more research on menopause and its symptoms. The bad news is that sometimes we don’t like hearing what they find out. Such is the case with a new study that has found connections between certain symptoms of menopause and heart disease and stroke.
Here’s the finding: having two or more moderate or severe hot flashes or night sweats means you have an increased risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease, according to a study from the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Only two of each? Is that per day? Or ever? And doesn’t that mean almost every woman is susceptible?
Menopause and Heart Disease: What’s the Connection?
Well, let’s go with the science here. Dr. Matthew Nudy and colleagues looked at the Women’s Health Initiative Calcium and Vitamin D trial, which included 20,050 women aged 50 to 79, with a seven-year follow up.
The researchers observed that the number of hot flashes and night sweats was associated significantly with the risk for stroke and total cardiovascular disease. However there was no linkage between the severity of these symptoms and higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
“We found that even severe hot flashes were not associated with any adverse clinical health outcomes when occurring on their own, but if they or any other moderate-to-severe menopause symptoms were present in combination, there was an association with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” Nudy said.
It’s important to note that the study did not make a cause-and-effect link, just an association. Menopause may not create the higher risk of heart issues and stroke, it may point to other conditions that can contribute to severe menopausal symptoms and cardiac disease, such as obesity and diabetes.
In fact, earlier research shows that hot flashes and night sweats usually do have similar pre-conditions to disease and strokes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, higher levels of inflammation, and bad blood vessel condition.
If you’ve had moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats, please ask your doctor about your risk of heart disease and stroke.