Heart Health in Women has many risk factors associated with it. A new study, another retrospective one, examined 28,516 women, who were enrolled as part of the Women’s Health Initiative (link below), a great effort that is now providing invaluable statistics that can be used to identify root causes and create awareness.
Eliminating all other known factors, such as BMI, smoking etc., two new factors popped up:
- Early Menopause
- Lack of pregnancy
They also identified that for every year’s worth of delay in menopause initiation, a woman’s heart failure rate drops by 1%. The other risk is caused by nulliparity, or lack of pregnancy. I am quoting directly here:
The latest study also found that women who had never given birth were 2.75 times more likely to have diastolic heart failure than women who had children.
The study authors did not establish a direct causal link, but they were able to identify a statistical link. The lead author did mention that polycystic ovary syndrome (a blog post for another day) has been known to increase cardiovascular risk. Diastolic Heart Failure happens when the heart is not able to pump enough blood to the body.
Retrospective studies, especially ones based on efforts such as the Women’s Health Initiative, where large amount of data can be a treasure trove of information, just as this study has been. However, there are limitations. The current study only shows an association, not a causation, and no clues on the actual causation.
Such limitations however can be overcome by future studies, that focus on trying to identify causes.
The more causes that are identified for the risk of heart failure, the better. Instead of considering these things in a negative light, women and doctors can better prepare ahead, taking precautionary measures ensuring a long and fruitful lifespan. It is also true that women in this century, prefer to make their life choices and therefore, knowing that avoiding pregnancy means a need to plan and prepare ahead for optimal health is always very good!
- The study (sits behind a paywall): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109717367694
- The Guardian Article summarizing the study: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/15/earlier-menopause-puts-women-at-greater-risk-of-heart-failure-study-shows
- The Women’s Health Initiative: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/whi/
- Nulliparity: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/nulliparity
- A simple review of early menopause: http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/premature-menopause-symptoms#1
- Diastolic Heart Failure: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/tc/diastolic-heart-failure-topic-overview#1
- Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sunset-hands-love-woman-5390/