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Severe Menopause Symptoms Raise Heart Risks
Date:3/14/2008

The worse the symptoms, the higher the chances of trouble, study shows

FRIDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have the most severe menopausal symptoms may also be at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

Dutch researchers surveyed 5,648 women, aged 46 to 57, about their menopausal complaints and collected data on other health information such as their cholesterol and blood pressure.

Night sweats were reported by 38 percent of women; flushing by 39 percent.

Those with flushing had higher cholesterol levels than those without the symptom. They also had higher blood pressure, higher body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) and a slightly higher chance of developing heart disease over the next decade. The women with night sweats had comparable results.

The researchers, from the University Medical Center Utrecht, conclude that the connection between severity of symptoms and heart disease risk may be the result of reduced beneficial effects of estrogen on the functioning of blood vessel walls, as estrogen declines during menopause.

The Dutch researchers were scheduled to present their findings Friday at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Conference, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"The implication is the women with the worst symptoms may be at higher risk, clinically, for heart disease," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women & heart disease, at the Heart & Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

But the American Heart Association does not advise postmenopausal women to take hormone therapy to reduce heart disease or stroke risk, due to clinical trials that show the hormones, over time, actually increase cardiovascular risks. Hormone therapy is only recommended to relieve very severe symptoms of menopause, and only for the shortest possible period.

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