In two separate studies, researchers at the University of Pittsburg have found that women who start experiencing hot flashes earlier in life are at an elevated risk of heart disease. One of the studies also established a link between more frequent hot flashes and greater risk for heart problems.
The study’s findings show that hot flashes earlier in life seem to cause reduced endothelial function, which involves the lining of the blood vessels. Reduced endothelial function is the first sign of heart disease.
In one study, 189 female participants wore a monitor that tracked their hot flashes over 24 hours. The women were either in menopause or had just finished menopause. The researchers then used ultrasounds to examine their blood vessels. The women who had 10 or more hot flashes per day exhibited a 50 percent reduction in blood flow, compared to women who did not get hot flashes, the study found.
The second study examined questionnaires filled out by over 104 women in the postmenopausal stage. Most of these women already showed some signs of heart disease. Those women who had their first hot flash before age 42 exhibited worse blood vessel function than women who started getting hot flashes later.
“As we learn more about these unique risk factors for women, it is imperative that we target a prevention strategy, as we know that the outcomes for heart disease in women are worse,” said women’s health expert Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Do you experience hot flashes? See if you qualify for Segal Institute’s clinical research study on hot flashes today!