Hot Flashes May be a Good Sign for Heart Health

Study finds women who suffer from hot flashes when they begin menopause are at lower risk for cardiovascular events

You are enjoying a night out with friends when it starts; first you feel flush, then a sensation of warmth crawls down your body.  Soon you begin perspiring and you feel as if everyone around you can tell what is happening – another hot flash.  An estimated three out of four women experience hot flashes associated with menopause and nearly all would agree they are a nuisance, but experts say there could be an upside to having hot flashes.  New research released today in the online edition of the journal Menopause suggests that women who suffer from hot flashes and night sweats may be at lower risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and death.

“While they are certainly bothersome, hot flashes may not be all bad,” said Emily Szmuilowicz, MD, endocrinologist at Northwestern Medicine and lead author of the study.  “Our research found that despite previous reports suggesting that menopause symptoms were associated with increased levels of risk markers for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, the actual outcomes tell a different story.”

Szmuilowicz, who co-chaired the study along with JoAnn Manson, MD and Ellen Seely, MD from Harvard Medical School, reviewed medical information from 60,000 women who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study and followed for ten years, to determine the relationship between menopause symptoms and cardiovascular events.  Subjects were grouped into four categories – women who experienced hot flashes and night sweats at the onset of menopause, later in menopause, during both time periods, and not at all.

“We found that women who experienced symptoms when they began menopause had fewer cardiovascular events than those who experienced hot flashes late in menopause or not at all,” said Szmuilowicz. The results are significant since there has been concern that menopausal symptoms, which result from instability in the blood vessels in the skin, may put women at risk for other types of vascular problems as well.

“It is reassuring that these symptoms, which are experienced by so many women, do not seem to correlate with increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Szmuilowicz.

Szmuilowicz and team say more research needs to be done in order to understand the mechanisms behind the association, but say it’s good news for the millions of women who experience these troublesome symptoms at the time of menopause.

“Hot flashes will never be enjoyable, but perhaps these findings will make them more tolerable,” said Szmuilowicz.The paper titled “Vasomotor symptoms and cardiovascular events in postmenopausal women” is now available online and will be printed in the June issue of Menopause. For more information, visit .

Source:  Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

8 Comments

  1. Marsha Ming
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Well isn’t that an excellent twist. I guess If you look hard enough, you’ll find a little good in everything…

  2. Menopause Mama
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    It’s good to know that hot flashes may actually lower cardiovascular risk because mine are often accompanied by heart palpitations which made me feel concerned. This knowledge will help me to relax.

  3. Girlfriend advice
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Always positive to see that not everything will be the death of us, lol.

  4. Tina
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s fantastic that time and resources are being dedicated to better understand this issue, which at times is made light of in our society. It’s really not a joking matter, especially when you are the one trying to live through it.

    Thanks for writing about the issue and raising awareness.

    Tina

  5. Thomas Fouts
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Just a couple weeks ago my sister who is just 40 years old was told by her doctor that she was starting menopause early. That next weekend I took her to the emergency room due to a “hot flash” that she was sure was a heart attack!
    So it is good to read in your article that having hot flashes early in menopause may be a good thing cardiovascular-wise. Thanks for the info.
    PS. Would this have an affect on blood sugar of a type 2 diabetic?
    Thomas

  6. Menopause Symptoms Guy
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    This is really amazing. I guess there’s a good side to everything. This is one of the best reasons why menopausal women shouldn’t worry too much about their menopause symptoms.

  7. George Anderson
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Interesting! My partner gets hot flushes every few weeks. This information may cheer her up a little.
    The menopause is certainly a tough time. Both for the woman and her partner. Many relationships suffer at this time and some even break up and lead to divorce. Not good. Menopause requires patience and understanding from the man.

  8. Obat Penyakit Psoriosis
    Posted February 9, 2013 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    so menopause may also increase the risk of heart disease?

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