Women who go into menopause when they are younger than 40 are at greater risk of heart problems, reports a new Korean study of more than 1.4 million females.
Women with premature menopause had an overall 33% higher risk of heart failure and 9% higher risk of an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) compared to women who experienced normal menopause, even after accounting for other risk factors, researchers reported Aug. 3 in the European Heart Journal.
Heart health risks increased as women experienced menopause earlier in life, compared to those who went into menopause after 50:
- Risk of heart failure was 39% higher among women who entered menopause younger than 40, 23% higher for women 40 to 44, and 11% higher for women 45 to 49.
- Risk of atrial fibrillation was 11% higher for women younger than 40, 10% higher for women 40 to 44, and 4% higher for women 45 to 49.
Premature menopause affects 1% of women younger than 40, the researchers said in background notes.
“Women with premature menopause should be aware that they may be more likely to develop heart failure or atrial fibrillation than their peers,” study author Dr. Ga Eun Nam, of Korea University College of Medicine, in Seoul, said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology. “This may be good motivation to improve lifestyle habits known to be linked with heart disease, such as quitting smoking and exercising.”
The researchers based the study on data from the Korean National Health Insurance System. Out of 1.4 million postmenopausal women tracked between 2009 and 2018, more than 28,000 went through premature menopause.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about the health effects of menopause.
SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, Aug. 3, 2022