Menopause before 40 years increases risk of heart failure, says new study

Indian cardiologists say there are misconceptions about men having more heart failures, say study asks women to focus on lifestyle habits.

ByChetana Belagere

Published Aug 05, 2022 | 8:40 AMUpdated Aug 05, 2022 | 9:00 AM

Menopause before 40 years increases risk of heart failure, says new study

Menopause before 40 years of age increases the risk of heart failure and atrial fibrillation, a study published in the European Heart Journal has said.

The study by Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, found that the younger the age at menopause, the higher the risk of new-onset heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

What does the study say?

The researchers warn that women should be aware of the fact that they can likely develop these issues and should take it as a motivation to improve their lifestyle habits.

Dr Ga Eun Nam, one of the authors of the study, said, “This may be good motivation to improve lifestyle habits known to be linked with heart disease, such as quitting smoking and exercising.”

early menopause

Early menopause in women increases the risk of heart failure. (Representational image/Creative Commons)

The researchers argued that cardiovascular diseases typically occur 10 years later in women than men. Pre-menopausal women benefit from estrogen’s protective effect on the cardiac system. But, stopping menses then leads to the decline of estrogen levels which may make women more vulnerable to cardiac-related ailments.

There have been studies that have found a link between premature (below 40) and early (before 45 years) menopause and heart diseases, but evidence for heart failure or atrial fibrillation, in particular, was not known.

The study included 1,401,175 post-menopausal women aged 30 years and older. The participants were followed up for almost nine years for new-onset heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

The study did take into consideration the age, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, income of the person, body mass index, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, chronic kidney and heart disease, HRT, and age at menarche.

They found that women who experienced premature menopause had a 33 percent higher risk of heart failure and nine percent higher risk of atrial fibrillation compared to those who didn’t have early menopause.

Karnataka cardiologists on misconceptions about heart ailments

The authors concluded that there are several misconceptions that heart disease primarily affects men. This evidence indicates that the reproductive history of women should be routinely considered — in addition to traditional risk factors such as smoking — to evaluate the likelihood of future heart failure risks.

Dr Abhijit Kulkarni, cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals in Bengaluru, told South First, “This is a good study and evidence in my own practice has shown several women developing cardiac risks when they have had pre-menopause.”

Meanwhile, Dr Manjunath CN, director, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, told South First, “Our research has also shown that though men are more prone to heart attacks, women who have premature menopause are at higher risk. Also, those who have had hysterectomies at an early age are also at risk.

“The misconception that women are not at risk can mean that sex-specific risk factors are largely ignored and must need to be taken care of. Doctors should have knowledge of a person’s reproductive history while assessing risks of heart ailments.”

Cardiologists say that diabetes in women also increases the risk of heart disease more than it does in men.

“It could be due to added risk factors. Diabetic women may have obesity, hypertension and high cholestrol. In fact, in women who have already had an attack, diabetes doubles the risk of second heart attack and even heart failures,” added Dr Kulkarni.