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New study says early menopause can mean increased risk of heart failure

Those experiencing menopause between the ages of 45 and 49 had an 11 percent chance of heart failure.

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By Pol Allingham via SWNS

Early menopause is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, warns a new study.

Women who have their final menstrual cycle before 40, -the definition of premature menopause - were 33 percent more likely to suffer new-onset heart failure.

They were also nine percent more likely to experience atrial fibrillation - a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate - compared to those who did not, according to the findings published in the European Heart Journal.

Research conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, involving more than 1.4 million postmenopausal people over 30, found that as the age of menopause decreased, the likelihood of heart failure and atrial fibrillation increased.

Those experiencing menopause between the ages of 45 and 49 had an 11 percent chance of heart failure, which rose to 39 percent in those who were under 40.

In the same age brackets, there was a four percent risk of atrial fibrillation increasing to 11 percent in under the forties.

Researchers say that the trend could be due to premenopausal women benefiting from estrogen’s protective effect on the cardiovascular system.

Reduction in estrogen is thought to leave people vulnerable, coupled with the cardiovascular risk associated with redistributing of body fat.

The cardiovascular disease typically occurs in men 10 years before women.

However, study author Dr. Ga Eun Nam, of Korea University College of Medicine, said: “The misconception that heart disease primarily affects men has meant that sex-specific risk factors have been largely ignored."

“Evidence is accumulating that undergoing menopause before the age of 40 may increase the likelihood of heart disease later in life.

“Our study indicates that reproductive history should be routinely considered in addition to traditional risk factors such as smoking when evaluating the future likelihood of heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

“Women with premature menopause should be aware that they may be more likely to develop heart failure or atrial fibrillation than their peers,

“This may be good motivation to improve lifestyle habits known to be linked with heart disease, such as quitting smoking and exercising.”

In the 1.4-million-person study, 28,111 (two percent) had a history of premature menopause and the average age of onset was 36.7 years.

Data was collected from the Korean National Health Insurance System (NHIS), which provides health screenings to 97 percent of the population at least every two years.

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