There is a higher risk of heart disease and early death among women who experience early menopause. Dutch researchers reviewed 32 studies involving over 300,000 women. They compared women younger than 45 at the start of menopause and women who were over 45 when it started.
Heart disease risk was 50 percent higher among women who entered menopause younger. Early menopause was also associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality. There was no association with stroke risk, the researchers noted.
Study author Dr. Taulant Muka said, “These findings suggest that women with early onset of menopause may be a group to target for proactive cardiovascular prevention strategies.”
Estrogen has been found to play a role in women’s heart disease risk. The researchers suggest that unless there is a clear reason why a woman shouldn’t embark on hormone replacement therapy, it should be used as a means to maintain estrogen levels for lowering the risk of heart disease.
Editorial writer Teresa Woodruff said, “We don’t know definitively whether the reproductive system is influencing cardiovascular health or cardiovascular disease is influencing the ovary.”
Early menopause can lead to high blood pressure, damaging the heart. Genetic or environmental factors may also contribute to early menopause onset, though this isn’t fully understood.
It is important that all women practice heart-healthy habits in order to reduce their risk of heart disease. These include exercising regularly, eating healthy, and not smoking.