She conducted the research while working at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
“My hope is that getting this message out will motivate women with early menopause to engage in the lifestyle and medical strategies known to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease — like controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and excess weight and by exercising,” Wellons said.
The study looked at 2,509 women enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), with 693 reporting either surgical or natural early menopause before age 46. Women with early menopause were more often smokers, had diabetes and had a higher average BMI.
Within the study, early menopause in European, African-American, Hispanic and Asian women doubled the risk for cardiovascular disease when compared to groups experiencing menopause later in life.
“This is an observational study, so my colleagues and I can’t conclude that early menopause is the cause of future cardiovascular disease,” Wellons noted.
“But our findings do support the use of age at menopause as a marker of future heart and vascular disease risk. Clinicians should consider asking questions about menopause when collecting a female patient’s medical history,” she added.
The study has been published in the current issue of Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society.