Hot flushes are a common and troublesome part of menopause symptoms. Approximately three women out of four suffer the hot flashes typically associated with menopause. Although hot flushes are usually perceived as a problem, the surprising news is that researchers now believe that they might actually indicate good heart health.
A research study published online on February 24th, 2011 in the journal Menopause points to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and even death, for women who experience night sweats and hot flushes.
A hot flush starts as a flush, which progresses to a sensation of heat moving down the body, followed by profuse perspiration. Hot flushes are caused by instability in the blood vessels found in the skin. The findings of the study are important, since they might alleviate concerns that menopausal symptoms could increase the risk of vascular problems for women.
Northwestern Medicine endocrinologist and lead author of this study, Emily Szmuilowicz, MD said, “While they are certainly bothersome, hot flashes may not be all bad.” Although previous reports have suggested an association between menopause symptoms and raised levels of risk factors including cholesterol and blood pressure, this study discovered quite the opposite.
“We found that women who experienced symptoms when they began menopause had fewer cardiovascular events than those who experienced hot flashes late in menopause or not at all,” explained Szmuilowicz. “It is reassuring that these symptoms, which are experienced by so many women, do not seem to correlate with increased risk of cardiovascular disease,”
JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, and Ellen Seely, MD from Harvard Medical School co-authored the research study along with Szmuilowicz. They investigated the association between symptoms of menopause and cardiovascular health by assessing medical data obtained from 60,000 women who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study and followed up for ten years.
The women whose symptoms were reviewed were categorised as follows – women who had experienced night sweats and hot flushes at the beginning of menopause, later on in menopause, during both stages of menopause, and those who did not experience hot flushes at all.
The study authors state that further research will help clarify the exact association between hot flushes and heart health. Meanwhile the study findings will cheer millions of menopausal women who endure this disruptive symptom. “Hot flushes will never be enjoyable, but perhaps these findings will make them more tolerable,” added Szmuilowicz.
Brendan Wilde writes about a range of health and well being topics. For more information please visit Family Health Guide