Researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK have discovered a possible link between the age of menstrual onset in women and heart disease risk. Women who began their period early before age 10 or later than age 17 experience a higher risk for developing heart disease later on.
Menarche is the onset of the first full menstrual cycle in women. It is also a marker of puberty and the start of endocrine functions related to reproduction. The researchers found out that early or a late menarche may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in women. Obese girls tend to experience menarche early, so the risk for heart disease is somewhat expected. But the researchers were surprised that women who experience menarche at an older age also face higher heart disease risk later on.
The researchers analyzed the health data of over one million women in the UK between the ages 50 to 64. The work included analyzing the medical and reproductive history of the patients as well as the national data on deaths and hospitalizations over the decade.
After a period of 11 years, the study showed that almost 250,000 women were hospitalized or died from complications as a result of high blood pressure. Around 73,000 developed heart disease while more than 25,000 suffered a stroke. Analysis of the data indicated that women who had their first period at the age of 13 years old showed the lowest risk of developing heart problems. Those who had their first period at age 10 or younger were 25 percent more likely to develop heart disease. In addition, women who had their first menstrual period at age 17 or older also increased. The patterns for stroke and high blood pressure were similar, although the increases in the risk were smaller compared to that for heart disease, noted the researchers.
The risks even remained when the researchers accounted for the other factors such as body size, smoking socio-economic status and others.
The findings of the study so far concern middle-aged Caucasian women from industrialized nations who were born between 1930 and 1950 and mostly white. The researchers may need further studies to determine whether the findings are similar for women from developing countries of different ethnicities. The results of the study were published in the journal Circulation.
Source: Yahoo News