Recent studies reported by HealthDay found that women who have hot flashes at a younger age (hot flashes usually start around the age of 50 and above) may be at an increased risk of heart disease. In addition, one study revealed that even age appropriate women who experience more frequent hot flashes during a normal day could be at an increased risk of heart disease.
The studies were conducted by the University of Pittsburg’s Rebecca Thurston, associate professor of psychology, psychiatry and epidemiology. Professor Thurston found that in some cases, women who started having hot flashes early on in life experience problems with the lining of blood vessels (endothelial, which is an early sign of heart disease) when it comes to functionality when compared to those who have them later on in life.
Unfortunately, hot flashes take place at a time in life when women are at higher risk for heart disease increases. Professor Thurston’s findings propose that hot flashes that occur early on might be able to help doctors determine if a woman is at a greater risk for heart disease. One of the studies that monitored 189 women found that those who experienced more hot flashes in a 24 hour period than others were connected to more serious blood flow issues among women who were 52 or younger. For instance, women who had 10 or more hot flashes a day had a 50% decline in how well their blood vessels expanded throughout normal blood flow, compared to women who didn’t have any hot flashes, the researchers said. Hot flashes can potentially last for as many as 14 years.
Thurston’s second study pulled its results from questionnaires that were turned in by 104 postmenopausal aged women who were already showings signs of heart disease. The study showed that women who reportedly started having hot flashes at 42 or younger experienced substantially worse blood vessel health issues than women who started having hot flashes later in life. The findings also reported that the studies took into account the participants’ history of heart disease and hormone use.
Medical professionals that include Lenox Hill Hospital’s Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum has said that as more is being learned about women’s unique heart risk factors, that it’s absolutely essential that the medical industry concentrate on a preventative strategy. One of the most important reasons that research needs to continue is because the heart disease outcomes for women are often worse than for men.
Dr. Vijayapraveena Paruchuri of Winthrop University Hospital’s Center for Adult Congenital Heart Disease also said that she feels that these new studies add to recent discoveries that the hormonal profile and other changes that are unique to women are crucial considerations that health professionals should be aware of.
Additional studies are necessary to pinpoint the hot flashes/age related findings. It appears that women with poor endothelial function are the most highly linked. Doctors need to determine if the severity of hot flashes plays a part as well as identifying if any linked elements between endothelial function and hot flashes come into play.