In this latest study based on SWAN data, researchers tested whether the hot flashes early in the transition or persistent hot flashes over the transition impacted incident CVD risk. They found that frequent, as well as persistent, hot flashes over the menopausal transition translated into a higher risk of having a CVD event in the future. They additionally discovered that this association was not explained by standard CVD risk factors. In fact, frequent hot flashes at the beginning of the study were associated with a doubling of risk of clinical CVD events, and persistent hot flashes over the study with an 80% increased risk of clinical CVD events in the subsequent 20 years.
"This is the strongest test of whether hot flashes are associated with actual clinical CVD events, such as heart attacks and strokes, which represent the most clinically relevant outcome," says Dr. Rebecca Thurston, lead author of the study from the University of Pittsburgh. "It's the strongest because we measured hot flashes prospectively multiple times over the course of the menopause transition, which is different than most other studies of CVD events that ask women to recall their hot flashes over months or years. We also had measures of clinical CVD events, rather than other proxy measures. We brought these data together to address this important question in a more rigorous fashion than prior studies."
"With heart disease being the number one killer of women, it's critical that we understand its many different risk factors in order to help create more preventative and treatment strategies for women transitioning through menopause," says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.