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Menopause symptoms add up

Woman with menopause
When added to other severe menopause symptoms, hot flashes may make cardiovascular disease more likely for women. (Source: Adobe Stock)

For most women, a number of uncomfortable and annoying symptoms come along with menopause. Hot flashes are one of the most commonly reported – and most bothersome – of these.

Unfortunately, when they occur in combination with other severe menopause symptoms, hot flashes may also add up to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in women, according to a new report. 

Researchers from Penn State Hershey Medical Center found in a recent study that by themselves, hot flashes did not put women at higher risk for any adverse health outcomes. However, they determined that women who had two or more moderate to severe menopause symptoms were at significantly higher risk for heart disease and stroke. 

No connection was found between multiple menopause symptoms and other types of negative health outcomes, such as cancer risk.

In addition to hot flashes, the list of menopause symptoms found to be “triggers” for added heart disease risk include night sweats, dizziness, racing heartbeat, tremors, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, mood swings, vaginal dryness, breast tenderness, migraines, and waking multiple times throughout the night.

The researchers also looked into the effects of taking calcium and vitamin D, and whether those supplements helped to mitigate the increased heart risks for women with multiple symptoms, but no evidence was found. 

“With heart disease remaining the number one killer of women, studies like this are invaluable,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society. “Healthcare providers need to be aware that menopause symptoms may be more than a benign nuisance, and women suffering from these symptoms may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease…Identifying women at high risk is important so that risk reduction strategies can be implemented.”

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