Menopause, associated with frequent and severe symptoms such as sleep disturbance, hot flashes, and depression, may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), a study says.
The study found that 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.
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,” said JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director at the North American Menopause Society in the US.
“With fluctuating and then declining estrogen 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,” Pinkerton added.
For the findings, published in the journal Menopause, the team examined 138 menopausal women for 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.
In addition, 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.