Early Menopause Linked To Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Carotid Atherosclerosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Taulant Muka, MD, MPH, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher
Erasmus University, Rotterdam

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Menopause marks a major life transition for women, resulting in the loss of ovarian follicle development. Although menopause is a universal phenomenon among women, the timing of the final menstrual period differ greatly between women, and is considered a marker of aging. By quantifying data of nearly 310,329 non-overlapping women, we found that women who experienced an early menopause (i.e. younger than 45 years) have an excess risk of CHD, CVD-mortality and all-cause mortality. Furthermore, being 45-49 years at menopause compared to ≥50 years was associated with increased risk of carotid atherosclerosis.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Early menopause, defined as a menopausal age of younger than 45 years, is associated with increased CVD risk, independent of traditional CVD risk factors. Also, early menopause is associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality. The frequency of ovarian failure before age 40 is ≤ 1% but about 5-10% of women experience natural menopause by age of 45. Therefore, the increased risk of CVD and all-cause mortality associated with early menopause, represents an important factor affecting risk of disease and mortality among older women.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Larger prospective population-based studies focusing on the association between early menopause and intermediate cardiovascular traits, including obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia are required, since they may provide new insights into the underlying mechanisms of the observed excess CVD risk

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Our results indicate that menopause is a critical period to evaluate women’s risk for CVD and that it may be an appropriate time to introduce interventions to reduce the risk of adverse cardiometabolic health. For instance, screening for medical conditions such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and other cardiometabolic risk factors may be considered for women going into menopause at or before age 45, since it may help in identifying women at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease, who could profit from lifestyle or pharmacological interventions.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


Muka T, Oliver-Williams C, Kunutsor S, et al. Association of Age at Onset of Menopause and Time Since Onset of Menopause With Cardiovascular Outcomes, Intermediate Vascular Traits, and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Cardiol. Published online September 14, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.2415. 

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Last Updated on September 15, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD