Women who experience severe hot flashes after menopause have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, according to research presented at the 25th European Congress of Endocrinology in Istanbul. The authors defend that these results highlight the importance of using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help these women.
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for multiple conditions that increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. These include, for example, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess fat, high cholesterol, and others. Menopause puts women at an increased risk of developing these conditions.
For this study, a team from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, tested over 800 women aged 40–65 who had recently undergone menopause. The authors monitored these women for 15 years and discovered that those with severe hot flashes were more likely to develop hypertension and metabolic syndrome. “Our long-term study is carefully designed, in which we matched a carefully selected group of women according to the severity of hot flashes and their age and followed them for up to 15 years,” said lead researcher Dr. Elena Armeni.
Symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes start around the time of menopause and can last for ten years. HRT can reduce the incidence of some symptoms, as well as protect women against cardiovascular problems. “Our results re-emphasise the role of cardiovascular prevention strategies, such as the use of hormone replacement therapy, which should be implemented shortly after menopause,” said Dr. Armeni. “This healthy group of women who are already candidates for hormone replacement therapy should be encouraged to opt for this treatment.”
Going forward, the team wants to know if these accumulated factors also cause long-term heart conditions. “Our study shows that the most symptomatic women after menopause have more prevalent cardiovascular risk factors, but it is unclear if they are also more likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or have a stroke,” said Dr Armeni. “If so, women with more disturbing symptoms will require appropriate health education to ensure they will remain fit and healthy in old age.”