A new study finds a link between the common hot flashes experienced by most women around the time of their menopause, and vascular health. The study suggests that hot flashes may indicate a higher risk of heart disease.
[heart with a stethoscope]
New research suggests that hot flashes may signal heart disease in younger women.
As many as 70 percent of women experience hot flashes, and around a third of these women say that the hot flashes are frequent or severe.
Recent research suggests that hot flashes actually occur earlier than previously believed. It is now thought that they may begin to occur during the late reproductive years and not necessarily in the perimenopausal period. Some studies have also shown that hot flashes can persist for over a decade.
The new research, published in the journal Menopause, examines the link between hot flashes and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). More specifically, it 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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 yearly deaths in the United States. Approximately 610,000 U.S. individuals die of CVD each year; heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women.
Analyzing the link between hot flashes and vascular health
The new study examined 272 women aged between 40 and 60 years who reported having hot flashes either daily or not at all. The women did not smoke and had no history of CVD.