TUESDAY, Jan. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) - Reproductive factors, including early menarche and menopause, are associated with increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, according to a study published online Jan. 15 in Heart.
Likewise, history of hysterectomy was linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (adjusted HR 1.12, 95% CI 1.03-1.22) and coronary heart disease (adjusted HR 1.20, 95% CI 1.07-1.34).
The mean age for menarche was 13 years, and women who had their first periods prior to age 12 had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (adjusted HR 1.10, 95% CI 1.01-1.30) than women who had menarche at a later age.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is disturbed, causing a decrease in brain function.
Similarly, those who went through the menopause early (before the age of 47) had a 33 percent heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, rising to 42 percent for their risk of stroke, after taking account of other potentially influential factors.
Reproductive factors, including early menarche and menopause, are associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, according to a study published online January 15 in Heart.
For their study, the team drew on data from the UK Biobank, a large population-based study of more than half a million men and women up to the age of 69, who were recruited between 2006 and 2010.
They completed questionnaires on their lifestyle, environment, and medical record including reproductive history.
Overall, the health of over 267,000 women and more than 215,000 men was tracked up to March 2016, or until they had their first heart attack or stroke.
The findings are not the first to uncover a link between reproductive factors and cardiovascular diseases, and the data do not show a causal relationship, the authors cautioned. Furthermore, those who experienced a stillbirth had a 22% increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The average age of women participants was 56 when monitoring began.
Sixty-one percent of women in the study were postmenopausal, with a mean age at natural menopause of 50 years.
Eighty-five percent of women had been pregnant, and 44% of women had two children, while 42% of men had fathered two children. This included 5,782 cases of coronary artery disease (28% women) and 3,489 cases of stroke (43% women).
Miscarriage, stillbirth, undergoing a hysterectomy, and bearing children at a young age were also associated with elevated odds of cardiovascular problems later in life, researchers found.
But the association between the number of children and cardiovascular disease was similar for men and women, suggesting that social, psychological, and behavioural factors may be more important than biological ones.
Since this is an observational study, there were no firm conclusions about cause and effect. However, it was a large study and they were able to account for a range of factors that may have influenced the results.
But their findings do strengthen the association, and suggest that women with premature reproductive cycles or a history of adverse events should be frequently screened for heart trouble and conditions leading to blood clots.
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