Heart disease risk increases with age for everyone, but symptoms of heart disease can be more evident particularly after menopause. Researchers for the first time have linked symptoms of heart failure to menopause, according to a new study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Data that included more than 22,000 postmenopausal women from the Swedish National Patient Register, showed that women who went through menopause at an earlier age of age 40 to 45 (average is 51 in the United States), had a heart failure rate 40% higher than women who went through menopause between the ages of 50 and 54. The rate of heart failure dropped by 2% for every 1-year increase in age for onset of menopause.

Smokers have been shown by previous studies to go through menopause on average of 1 year earlier than nonsmokers. New findings show that women who had smoked earlier in their lives and quit also had increased risk of heart failure with early menopause at ages 40 to 45, and still had a higher risk of heart failure if they went through menopause at a somewhat earlier age between 46 to 49.

Given the higher risk of heart failure after menopause, women should take steps to lead a healthy lifestyle to lower their risk of heart disease. Steps to improve heart health include exercise, healthy diet, quitting tobacco, and weight loss. To learn more about the steps women can take to improve their overall health after menopause, visit Northwestern's menopause website here.

Source: Iffat Rahman, Agneta Åkesson, Alicja Wolk. Relationship between age at natural menopause and risk of heart failureMenopause, 2014; 1 DOI:10.1097/GME.0000000000000261

 

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