The long-held idea that women are protected from heart disease before they go through menopause is probably false, say US researchers; in fact, the new data show that aging alone explains the increasing number of cardiovascular deaths among females as they get older, Dr Dhanajay Vaidya (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD) and colleagues report in a study published online September 6, 2011 in BMJ .
And the disparity between the sexes–whereby men seem to have higher heart-disease mortality at a younger age than women–is likely explained by acceleration in cardiovascular disease among males, rather than the previously held belief of some protective effect of female hormones, says Vaidya. “Instead of looking for hormones that protect women, we ought to be looking at what is counterprotective in young men.
“While it’s true that the menopause is a very dramatic biologic event, nothing special happens after the menopause in terms of cardiovascular disease; hormones are fairly irrelevant,” Vaidya told heartwire . “We believe the cells of the heart and arteries are aging like every other tissue in the body, and that is why we see more and more heart attacks every year as women age. Aging itself is an adequate explanation, and the arrival of menopause, with its altered hormonal impact, does not seem to play a role.”
This is not true for all diseases, however. Vaidya and colleagues found that menopause clearly plays a role in other diseases for women–for example, the rate of breast-cancer mortality decelerates at menopause, probably because of hormonal changes.
By Lisa Nainggolan, for original article, click here.
J. Kyle Mathews, MD
Plano OBGyn Associates
Plano Urogynecology Associates