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Periods before age 12 and early menopause increase heart disease risk

Thursday 25th January 2018
Females who suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth or early menopause are markedly more likely to receive a diagnosis for cardiovascular disease in the future, new research shows. Image: Wavebreakmedia via iStock
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Females who get their first period before the age of 12 or go through the menopause early are at increased risk of receiving a heart disease diagnosis in later life, according to a new study.

The latest edition of the medical journal Heart features new analysis of data from the UK BioBank research project, which highlights a number of previously unrecognised factors that contribute to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.

Data relating to hundreds of thousands of both male and female participants was gathered as part of the project altogether, with some clear risk patterns for heart disease in later life noted among women.

It was found that females who got their first period before their 12th birthday were ten per cent more likely to be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease in the future than those who started their periods later.

What's more, analysis of the data showed that women who went through the menopause before the age of 47 were one-third (33 per cent) more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease too. At the same time, their risk of suffering a stroke increased by 42 per cent.

Miscarriages were also found to increase the likelihood of a heart disease diagnosis, with women who had lost a baby during pregnancy six per cent more likely to suffer from the condition in the future. Meanwhile, experiencing a stillbirth raised the risk of cardiovascular disease by 22 per cent and the likelihood of a stroke by 44 per cent.

These findings therefore suggest that more needs to be done to monitor women's heart health throughout their lives in order to keep track of their risk. There may be lifestyle changes, for instance, that those deemed to be at the greatest threat could make to reduce their long-term risk.

The study authors commented: "More frequent cardiovascular screening would seem to be sensible among women who are early in their reproductive cycle or who have a history of adverse reproductive events of a hysterectomy, as this might help to delay or prevent their onset of cardiovascular disease."

Written by Mathew Horton

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