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Press release content from NewMediaWire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Early menopause may raise the risk of several heart conditions

November 11, 2019
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Michael Honigberg M.D. M.P.P.
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Michael Honigberg M.D. M.P.P.

Research Highlights:

Women experiencing early menopause (before age 40) are at higher risk for several heart conditions, according to new research.

The risks were consistently higher for women who experienced menopause due to surgery compared to natural menopause. Some of this risk difference may be explained by differences in cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET Monday, Nov. 11, 2019

( NewMediaWire ) - November 11, 2019 - DALLAS - Women who experience menopause before age 40 are at higher risk for several heart conditions, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 — November 16-18 in Philadelphia. The Association’s Scientific Sessions is an annual, premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

In the largest, single study to-date of diverse heart disease risks relative to age at menopause, researchers used the UK Biobank to examine data on more than 144,000 postmenopausal women (average age 60), including about 4,900 women who experienced menopause “naturally” (i.e., spontaneously) before age 40 and about 640 who entered menopause before age 40 after their ovaries were removed surgically.

During an average of seven years of follow-up, researchers found:

Women who had experienced premature menopause were significantly more likely to develop conventional heart disease risk factors, such as , and .

Even after accounting for conventional risk factors, women with premature menopause still had a significantly increased risk of coronary artery disease, , thickening and narrowing of the aortic valve, atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm) and blood clots forming in the legs or lungs.

The heart disease risks were higher for women who experienced menopause due to surgery compared to natural menopause. Some of this risk difference may be explained by differences in cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Whether or not a woman took hormones for menopausal symptoms did not change the cardiovascular risks.

Menopausal age prior to age 50 had a dose-dependent effect on cardiovascular disease risk, meaning risk continued to increase with younger menopausal ages.

Increased cardiovascular risks lasted for decades after menopause.

“Our study reinforces the importance of menopause history in informing a woman’s risk of future heart disease,” said Michael Honigberg, M.D., M.P.P., lead author of the study and a cardiology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. “Women should make sure their physician knows their menopause history, particularly if they experienced menopause before age 40. History of premature menopause should prompt physicians to refine the patient’s estimated future risks for heart disease and to work toward lowering their heart disease risks.”

He said early evaluations could lead to intervention and medication recommendations. “Whether or not medications are warranted, eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly may be especially important for women with a history of premature menopause,” Honigberg said.

Guidelines published in 2018 by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association on management of cholesterol and in 2019 on the prevention of heart disease both recommend that physicians consider a history of premature menopause (defined as menopause before age 40) when making decisions about prescribing a statin (cholesterol-lowering) medication for middle-aged women who have not yet developed heart disease or stroke.

The UK Biobank has the advantage of extensive and detailed information on a large number of people; however, because most participants are white, the results of this study may not be generalizable to other ethnic groups. In addition, UK Biobank participants as a group are healthier than the general public, therefore, it is possible that these results underestimate the true effects of premature menopause.

Co-authors are Seyedeh Maryam Zekavat, M.D., Ph.D.; Krishna Aragam, M.D.; Derek Klarin, M.D.; Nandita Scott, M.D.; and Pradeep Natarajan, M.D., M.M.Sc. Author disclosures are in the abstract.

Additional Resources:

Downloadable multimedia available on the right column of the release link  https://newsroom.heart.org/news/early-menopause-may-raise-the-risk-of-several-heart-conditions?preview=f3517a1396f4a6ec8ed990daa604e705

AHA News Release: Got menopause? Healthy lifestyle now is crucial for heart health  

AHA/ACC Guidelines News Release: Updated cholesterol guidelines offer more personalized risk assessment, additional treatment options for people at the highest risk  

For more news at AHA Scientific Sessions 2019, follow us on Twitter @HeartNews   #AHA19.

Statements and conclusions of study authors presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available at  https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions is a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians. Scientific Sessions 2019 is November 16-18 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. More than 12,000 leading physicians, scientists, cardiologists and allied health care professionals from around the world convene at the Scientific Sessions to participate in basic, clinical and population science presentations, discussions and curricula that can shape the future of cardiovascular science and medicine, including prevention and quality improvement. During the three-day meeting, attendees receive exclusive access to over 4,100 original research presentations and can earn Continuing Medical Education (CME), Continuing Education (CE) or Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credits for educational sessions. Engage in the Scientific Sessions conversation on social media via #AHA19.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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