Early menopause may mean a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The researchers say the risk can be twice as high, and doctors should help women avoid early menopause if possible. "If physicians know a patient has entered menopause before her 46th birthday, they can be extra vigilant in making recommendations and providing treatments to help prevent heart attacks and stroke," Dhananjay Vaidya, an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine in Hopkins' School of Medicine and leader of the study, said in a statement.
The findings were unchanged whether a woman entered menopause naturally or when her reproductive organs were removed surgically, according to the study, published in the October issue of the journal Menopause.
The researchers said avoiding organ removal may help. Quitting smoking could be another way because research shows smokers reach menopause two years earlier than non-smokers. Most women reach menopause between ages 45 and 55, but a variety of factors from diet and exercise to heredity can influence the timing.
Past studies had only found a link to cardiovascular disease — the No. 1 killer of American women — among white women. This study found the risks were more universal.