Irregular menstrual periods lead to higher risk of heart disease

Islamabad, January 12 (Newswire): Women with a history of irregular menstrual periods may have a higher risk of developing heart disease than do other women, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed more than 23,000 women for a decade, found that those who said they’d typically had irregular periods in the past were 28 per cent more likely than women who reported regular monthly periods to develop heart disease.

There was no increased risk seen among women who reported regularly long menstrual cycles (30 or more days between periods) or regularly short cycles (26 or fewer days between periods).

Of the roughly 4,000 women who reported a history of irregular periods, 150 were diagnosed with coronary heart disease over the next 10 years. Just over 17,000 study participants reported having either regular monthly periods or regularly short cycles. Of those women, 530 developed coronary heart disease.

It’s known that women with a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have higher risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes than other women their age.

The new findings suggest that even in the absence of PCOS, less extreme irregularities in the timing of menstrual periods may be related to heart disease risk, according to the researchers, led by Dr Gerrie-Cor M. Gast of the University Medical Center Utrecht.

The potential reasons, however, are unclear. Since estrogen is believed to have a generally protective effect on the heart and arteries — and PCOS is marked by hormone imbalance — Gast’s team measured hormone levels in a subgroup of their study participants.

They found no evidence that altered hormone levels explained the association between irregular periods and heart disease risk. Nor did factors such as body weight, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol account for the link.