Is There a Connection Between Hot Flashes and Heart Disease?

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The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics recently reported on a study which is researching if hot flashes could be a sign of emerging vascular dysfunction.  They examined 272 women between the ages of 40 and 60 who reported having hot flashes either daily or not at all. The women did not smoke and had no history of CVD (cardiovascular disease).

I know the study was small, but since cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women (no, it is not breast cancer), I am happy to see that we are having more studies on how menopause affects our heart health.

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. They say that 70 per cent of women experiences them, and around 1/3 of these women say they are severe.  As many of us know, hot flashes can interfere with a woman’s overall quality of life.

The study shows younger midlife women (age 40-53 years) frequent hot flashes may also signal emerging vascular dysfunction that can lead to heart disease. Because these hot flashes had an impact on the ability of blood vessels to dilate among younger women.

Women aged between 54 and 60 do not seem to have this issue.  So, they are thinking that when hot flashes occur earlier they could have an effect on a women’s heart disease risk.

The study looks at the association between hot flashes and endothelial function. The endothelium is a layer of cells that line the inside of the blood vessels. The assessment of endothelial function is considered a key factor in predicting atherosclerosis -a form of CVD that affects the blood vessels’ ability to dilate and contract.  If left untreated, atherosclerosis can lead to more serious cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

I am hoping that this study will help health-care providers assess heart disease risk in menopausal patients earlier rather than later.

So, if you are between the ages of 40 and 53 and are experiencing hot flashes, speak to your healthcare provider about doing more cardiovascular disease screening.

The Amercian Heart Association recommends that you have and open and honest discussion of your current physical activity and eating style.  If you do smoke, be sure to let your doctor know this.  A few simple tests can help you detect cardiovascular risk factors in their early stages. The screening tests generally recommended are:

Fasting Lipoprotein Profile (Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, & LDL)

Blood Pressure

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Blood Glucose

If the results are not where you want them to be, do not panic!  The test will enable you to make changes to reduce your cardiovascular risk in a positive way.

Remember, be proactive about your health rather than reactive.

The study outcomes are published online in Menopause, in the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

My Motto:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN!

For more helpful information download my free eBook: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving during Perimenopause and Menopause.

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After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Yes it is a small study but at least it is a study! Hopefully there will be more studies as predicators for women’s better health.

  • Liz

    Great info. Thanks Ellen

  • Roxanne Jones

    This is fascinating–and SO important for women to know about. I’m amazed that so many women still think that breast cancer is our biggest health risk, not heart disease. Thanks for helping to beat that drum, Ellen!

    • I know, Roxanne. It is hard to get women as proactive about their heart health as their breast health.

  • As usual, another fascinating and invaluable post.

  • Great information! I am in that age-group and recently had a hysterectomy. I’ve had hot flashes for the last year. Thanks for sharing. Knowledge is power!

    • Just a few simple heart health tests will help you be proactive.

  • I had thought that women over the age of 60 who have hot flashes may also be in danger. Great info as always.

    • According to the study it didn’t affect the over 60 crowd.

  • Lisa_GrandmasBriefs

    Thank you for the info! Kind of scary as I’ll be 53 soon and have had hot flashes for quite some time now. Hmmm… time to check in with my doc. Thanks again!

    • No need to panic. Just get a few of those preventative tests recommended in the blog to be proactive.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    You always provide so much information that we don’t seem to get anywhere else. I am very thankful I never suffered from hot flashes very much.

    • Thank you for your sweet words, Lois. It is fantastic that you skipped the hot flash! She can be pretty annoying!

  • More research is needed, as always. I didn’t have those hot flashes, either, thankfully. Maybe 3-4 of them and that was all.

  • Nancy

    I I am 54 years old I just found out two months ago that I had a 99% blockage in my main right I really have my heart there’s four I’ve been taken off the estrogen him to just drawn that I’ve been on for the last six years I instantly started to get the worst of the worst hot flashes you can possibly imagine every hour on the hour I’m living in hell it’s making me depressed and I don’t want to live like this

    • I am so sorry that you are going through so much, Nancy. I would definitely be sure that you are going to a Menopause Specialist to help guide you with the hormone side of things. Often cardiologists are not up on the latest hormone information. You can download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause. Chapter 4 talks about hot flash options and Chapter 13 will help you find a good Menopause Specialist. Good Luck, and keep me posted! http://ellendolgen.com/menopause-book/

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