Changes in carotid artery during menopausal transition may predispose women to higher risk of cardiovascular disease

November 6, 2012

Substantial changes in the diameter and thickness of a section of carotid artery in perimenopausal women may indicate a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in women, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Epidemiologists studied 249 women aged 42 to 52 from the Pittsburgh site of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) observational study. Each participant was given up to five during transitional phases of menopause to measure the thickness and diameter of a section of the carotid artery. Researchers noted significant increases in the average thickness (0.017 mm per year) and diameter (0.024 mm per year) of the carotid artery during the late perimenopausal stage, the period of time when menstruation ceases for more than three consecutive months. These increases were significantly higher than those found in the premenopausal stage.

"These data highlight late perimenopause as a stage of vascular remodeling during which arteries become more vulnerable, regardless of a woman's age and ethnicity," says Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study, which is now available online and in the January 2013 print issue of Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

The findings also suggest that the changes in the diameter of the arterial wall may occur first in response to lower levels of estrogen during perimenopause. The thickening of the arterial wall likely follows as the body adjusts to the increased stress from the dilated artery, says Dr. El Khoudary. Late perimenopause also is the time during which women and face changes in and . Those in combination with the vascular changes may place older women at risk for developing atherosclerosis, says Dr. El Khoudary.

"Our current study highlights late as a time when early intervention strategies targeting cardiovascular disease might yield the greatest benefit," she adds.

Related Stories

Study ties early menopause to heart attack, stroke

September 28, 2012

Women who experience early menopause are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than women whose menopause occurs at a later age, according to a new study by Melissa Wellons, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine in ...

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.