Mayo Clinic: Iím 50 years old and recently started having
menopause symptoms, including a lot of hot flashes. Is it true
that frequent hot flashes could be a sign of heart disease?
Should I see my health care provider to get my heart checked?
direct association between hot flashes and heart disease hasnít
been found. However, research suggests that women who have hot
flashes may be at a higher risk of having heart problems in
the future than women who donít have them. It would be a
good idea for you to talk with your health care provider about
your hot flashes and assess your risk for heart disease
flashes ó sudden feelings of warmth, often over your face,
neck and chest ó are a common menopause symptom. The exact
cause of hot flashes during the transition into menopause isnít
clear. They seem to be related to changes in reproductive
hormones and the way your body responds to slight variations
study of women 40 to 60 looked at the connection between hot
flashes and vascular health, particularly the health of blood
vessels. It found that women who have hot flashes, especially
younger women who have them early in the transition into
menopause, have arteries that are less likely to relax
appropriately during exercise or stress. In other words, their
arteries were stiffer than normal. Specifically, the
researchers focused on flow-mediated dilation ó the way an
artery widens when blood flow increases to that artery. In the
women who had hot flashes, flow-mediated dilation did not tend
to work properly. That could put those women at risk for
future cardiovascular problems, including heart disease.
important to keep in mind that these findings do not
necessarily link heart disease and hot flashes. Having hot
flashes does not mean youíre going to have a heart attack.
Instead, it indicates that some of your arteries may not be
working as well as they should. Knowing that can help you and
your health care provider better assess your overall risk for
heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
worth remembering that whether or not you have hot flashes isnít
something you can control. Thatís not true, however, with
some of the other risk factors for heart disease that are
modifiable, such as smoking and obesity. Studies have shown
that smoking is one of the most dangerous heart disease risk
factors in women. A woman who smokes is twice as likely to
have a heart attack as one who does not. Quitting smoking is
one of the best ways you can lower your heart disease risk.
also puts you at higher risk of developing heart disease.
Excess weight is particularly dangerous because it often
triggers other medical conditions, such as diabetes, high
blood pressure and high cholesterol. Each of those disorders
on its own can make a person more susceptible to heart
disease. A large research study showed that women who are
obese experience heart attacks 11 years earlier on average
than similar women who are not obese.
disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both
women and men. But more than 80 percent of heart disease is
preventable by living a heart-healthy lifestyle. That
lifestyle includes eating a diet rich in fruits and
vegetables, and low in saturated fats; getting regular
physical activity; being at a healthy body weight; and not
appointment to talk with your health care provider about your
heart disease risk. Together, you can assess your situation,
see if there are lifestyle adjustments you can make and create
a plan to maintain your heart health.