Many women experience hot flashes during menopause, but research suggests that this may also be a sign of heart problems. The researchers tracked the health of 272 non-smoking women between the ages of 40 and 60.
The researchers found that for women aged 40 to 53, frequent hot flashes were associated with poor blood vessel function. The association between hot flashes and poor heart health still remained even after researchers accounted for other risk factors.
The researchers suggest that for women who experience hot flashes early, this does not only become a bothersome occurrence, but it could signal possible threats to the heart. Dr. Jill Rabin explained, “[Hot flashes] are not simply a bother, but herald potential microvascular [small-vessel] disease, and may be a risk factor and predictor of subsequent cardiovascular disease.”
“The reason the study is so important is that heart disease in women, in particular, can be very difficult to diagnose until its latter stages. All too often, the diagnosis is made far too late, if at all and at the expense of a woman’s life. Overall, this is a very interesting and important study. Future research in this area is warranted and eagerly awaited,” Radin added.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women, particularly those who have experienced menopause. As estrogen levels drop through menopause, it puts women’s hearts at risk, as estrogen has been found to offer protective properties to the heart.
Roughly 70 percent of women report experiencing hot flashes during menopause, with one-third of them reporting frequent or severe hot flashes.
Although the study is groundbreaking in the sense that it reveals doctors should pay closer attention to women’s heart health if they experience hot flashes, unfortunately, the mechanism that links the two isn’t really understood.
More research is required in the area of hot flashes to better understand how they correlate to heart health.
Dr. Rachel Bond, not involved in the study, added, “In my own practice in the women’s heart health program, early hot flashes may be a red flag for me as a physician to be more aggressive at either screening for or preventing other risk factors and cardiovascular disease.”
In order to reduce your risk of heart-related problems with aging, it’s important that you lower your other risk factors which include not smoking, eating healthy, exercising regularly, reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure, and monitoring your health overall for other health conditions.