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Premature or Early-Onset Menopause Associated with Increased Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Mortality

Women who experience premature or early-onset menopause may be at a greater risk of coronary hear disease, cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, and all-cause mortality, according to a study recently published in JAMA Cardiology.

Researchers led by Taulant Muka, MD, PhD, of Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and noted that as many as 10% of women experience natural menopause by the age of 45 years. If confirmed, an increased risk of CVD and all-cause mortality associated with premature and early-onset menopause could be an important factor affecting risk of disease and mortality among middle-aged and older women. To examine this issue, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 32 studies (310,329 women) that met criteria for inclusion in the study.

Outcomes were compared between women who experienced menopause younger than 45 years and women 45 years or older at onset. The researchers found that overall, women who experienced premature or early-onset menopause appeared to have a greater risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), CVD mortality, and all-cause mortality but no association with stroke risk. Women between 50 and 54 years at onset of menopause had a decreased risk of fatal CHD compared with women younger than 50 years at onset.

Time since onset of menopause in relation to risk of developing intermediate cardiovascular traits or CVD outcomes was reported in four observational studies with inconsistent results. “The findings of this review indicate a higher risk of CHD, cardiovascular mortality, and overall mortality in women who experience premature or early-onset menopause when younger than 45 years,” the authors write. “However, this review also highlights important gaps in the existing literature and calls for further research to reliably establish whether cardiovascular risk varies in relation to the time since onset of menopause and the mechanisms leading early menopause to cardiovascular outcomes and mortality.”

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