Women who suffer from hot flushes and night sweats post-menopause are 70 per cent more likely to have a heart attack, angina or stroke. Picture: iStock
Women who suffer from hot flushes and night sweats post-menopause are 70 per cent more likely to have a heart attack, angina or stroke. Picture: iStock

Heart attack clue women should know

Women who suffer from hot flushes and night sweats after menopause are 70 per cent more likely to have a heart attack, angina or stroke.

New research from the University of Queensland (UQ) revealed women of any age who experience these symptoms, also known as vasomotor symptoms or VMS, are more likely to experience non-fatal cardiovascular events.

The risk increases by 40 per cent for women who have not yet gone through menopause.

School of Public Health PhD student Dr Dongshan Zhu said until now it was unclear whether VMS was associated with heart disease.

"But now we know it to be true," Dr Zhu said.

Dr Zhu explained the risk of cardiovascular events was more related to the severity of the hot flushes and night sweats rather than the frequency or duration.

"We found women with severe VMS were more than twice as likely to experience a non-fatal cardiovascular event compared with women who had no symptoms," he said.

As part of the research, academics at UQ examined data from almost 24,000 women living in either Australia, the US or the UK. They were surveyed and monitored at age 40 and again aged 60.

Researchers believe these menopausal symptoms could act as an early signal for a woman’s future cardiovascular health. Picture: iStock
Researchers believe these menopausal symptoms could act as an early signal for a woman’s future cardiovascular health. Picture: iStock

The study's senior author, Professor Gita Mishra, said the findings could have a significant influence on women who need clinical treatment.

"This research helps to identify women who are at a higher risk for the development of cardiovascular events and who may need close monitoring in clinical practice," she said.

Prof Mishra told NCA NewsWire women were more at risk of suffering from a cardiovascular event either before or after the menopausal transition rather than during menopause.

However researchers still aren't sure why hot flushes and night sweats are linked to cardiovascular disease in women, but hormones could have something to do with it.

"There are multiple hormonal changes that take place during menopause and these can act in complex ways to affect long term health - so the biological mechanisms at work are still a topic for current research," she said.

Researchers believe these menopausal symptoms could act as an early indicator of a woman's future cardiovascular health.

"Those with severe symptoms before or after menopause may need close monitoring by their GP. It is important to remember this is just about increased risk," the professor said.

She also urged women to take necessary steps to reduce their risk in other ways, such as maintaining healthy weight, eating well and exercising.