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Spot Heart Failure FAST – Live Longer Now! Top 2 Signs Women Should Watch Out For

By on June 1, 2017
These two factors could raise your risk of heart failure, say researchers.

According to a study just published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, postmenopausal women who reached menopause at an early age or never gave birth were more likely to develop heart failure.

But why? Researchers say it has to do with certain hormones active during a woman’s reproductive years–something that, unknowingly, can protect against heart problems.

“Our finding that a shorter total reproductive duration was associated with a modestly increased risk of heart failure might be due to the increased coronary heart disease risk that accompanies early menopause,” says Nisha I. Parikh, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. “These findings warrant ongoing evaluation of the potential cardioprotective mechanisms of sex hormone exposure in women.”

For the study, researchers examined data from the Women’s Health Initiative cohort, studying more than 28,000 postmenopausal women who did not have cardiovascular disease. They wanted to see if certain conditions, such as going through early menopause, raised the risk of heart failure.

Looking at more than 13 years of follow-up data, they found that 5.2 percent of the participants eventually developed heart failure. Was there an association?

During their research, they made two discoveries:

  • Women who never gave birth faced a higher heart failure risk. They specifically faced a higher risk of developing diastolic heart failure, caused by a dysfunction in the left side of the heart. Women who were infertile did not develop this, however.
  • Women who developed menopause early also faced a higher risk. Researchers hypothesize it has to due with their shorter reproductive duration. Women typically go through menopause starting at age 51, but early menopause can affect women as young as 35.

While researchers are hesitant to make any recommendations based on these findings, they do say it highlights unique cardiometabolic effects caused by estrogen.

“There also remain many unresolved questions including the mechanisms of estrogen’s cardioprotective effect, making this truly a work in progress,” says Nandita S. Scott, M.D., co-director of the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Altogether, these findings raise interesting questions about the cardiometabolic effects of sex hormone exposure over a woman’s lifetime and continue to raise important questions for future research.”

What This Means For You

Estrogen plays a unique role in a woman’s body–one that could now even protect certain age groups from heart failure. If you happen to be one of the unlucky few who go through the menopause process early, however, or are unable to have a child, let it serve as an early warning call. To keep your heart protected, ask your local healthcare provider about what you can do to improve your heart health in the meanwhile.

Readers: Are you at risk of heart failure? Let us know in the comment section below!

Sources:
Timing of Menopause Onset May Increase Heart Failure Risk in WomenScienceDaily.com

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