New study suggests increased risk of coronary heart disease for women who have early menopause

15 September 2016        

Category: BHF Comment

3D imaging of the heart

New research led by Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands suggests that women experiencing the menopause before they reach 45 could be at increased risk of coronary heart disease, although more research is needed to better understand why.

The findings, published in the JAMA medical journal suggested that overall women who experienced early-onset menopause were 50 per cent more likely to suffer coronary heart disease including heart attack and angina than women who experience the menopause later in life. 

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. Before the menopause, women in general have a lower risk of being affected by coronary heart disease. But after the menopause, your risk of getting CHD rises – and it continues to rise as you get older.

Our Senior Cardiac Nurse, Emily Reeve, said:

“It’s important for all women to recognise that heart disease isn’t reserved for overweight, middle-aged men, and to play close attention to the factors that can increase their risk, especially after the menopause. An NHS health check is a great way to better understand your heart health and the steps you can take to improve it such as lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol.”

“We also need to fund more research to better understand the development of heart disease in women and how more tailored ways of diagnosing incidents like heart attacks could lead to quicker diagnosis and treatment.”  

Improving diagnosis in women

The research comes two weeks after we launched a campaign to raise awareness of how heart disease devastates the lives of women and calls for the public’s support to fund more research to improve diagnosis and treatments

Research we’re funding in Edinburgh has already shown that when different limits are applied to the troponin test, a routine test for a heart attack, more women receive a correct diagnosis of heart attack. Thanks to this research there is now a better test for female heart attack diagnoses.

However more research is urgently needed into tests that will enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis of a heart attack, particularly in women."

Find out more about women and heart disease