Hot flashes are an annoying and often painful symptom of menopause. But, now comes news that these hot flashes may be more serious than previously known. The intense heat, pain and flushed cheeks is a warning sign of health problems down the road, according to new research.
The study was released at the North American Menopause Society’s (NAMS) annual meeting this week. It links hot flashes to heart disease.
Researchers found that women who experience frequent and persistent hot flashes are at greater risk for heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease. These conditions appear later in life, during their senior citizen years.
Hot Flashes: Study Results
The 20-year study evaluated 3,000 women during their menopause years. They found that participants with frequent episodes earlier in menopause were twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease. In addition, those who reported more persistent hot flashes had an 80 percent increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
The magnitude of the increased risks is a call to action for women in their 40’s and 50’s to work on minimizing their risks for cardiovascular disease. According to Dr. Turston, lead researcher of this study, the link between the flashes and heart events is a wake up call. It’s time to get healthy. Time to eat right and exercise.
In fact, perhaps this connection should not be too surprising. Many women in their 50’s are super busy. A full-time career, children at different ages, and aging parents is a sure fire way to increase stress. Therefore, positive health behaviors is a must.
Future research will also focus on the physiological connection between these episodes and heart disease. How do these episodes trigger heart disease years later? At a minimum, they could be triggering subtle biological changes that activate in senior years when immune systems are weak. Therefore, staying healthy by eating nutritious foods and sticking a consistent exercise program makes good sense.