Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – The feeling of heat comes out of nowhere, and for some women it may be so severe that they feel hot flashes hitting their faces. This is what happens as women approach menopause, a stage that 75% of women will pass through if they live long enough, according to experts.
Even if menopause is still years or decades away, it is time to pay attention to it, as experiencing menopause is harmful to your health in the future.
Unpublished studies, presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Menopause Society in Philadelphia, found that severe hot flashes are associated with an increase in C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of future heart disease and a biomarker in the blood that may predict the diagnosis of heart disease. Alzheimer’s disease later.
Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of the Women’s Health Specialized Clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, and medical director of the Menopause Association, said: “This is the first time science has shown that hot flashes are linked to biomarkers in the blood for Alzheimer’s disease.”
“This is further evidence that tells us that hot flashes and night sweats are not as harmless as we once thought,” added Faubion, who was not involved in the studies.
Risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Nearly 250 women ages 45 to 67 with menopausal symptoms wore a device to objectively measure their sleep quality for three nights. The women were fitted with sweat monitors to record hot flashes on one of those nights.
The researchers then drew blood samples from the study participants and examined them for a protein biomarker specific to Alzheimer’s disease called beta-amyloid 42/40.
“We found that night sweats are associated with harmful beta-amyloid 42/40 levels, suggesting that hot flashes that occur during sleep may be a sign of women at risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia,” said lead study author Dr. Rebecca Thurston.
Thurston explained that the biomarker does not determine whether a person has clinical Alzheimer’s disease, but rather only determines the possibility of developing the disease in the future.
In other words, hot flashes at night don’t cause this risk. “It’s just a sign of people who are at increased risk,” Faubion explained. “Similarly, we don’t know whether treating night sweats will reduce the risk.”
Another study Thurston’s team presented at the conference looked at markers of inflammation for heart disease.
Previous research by Thurston found that women who reported frequent or persistent hot flashes during early menopause had a 50% to 80% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
On average, recurrent, moderate to severe hot flashes can last 7 to 10 years, and less frequent or severe hot flashes may last longer, according to experts.
In this new research, scientists used sweat monitors on 276 women who were part of the MSHeart study to more objectively measure the frequency and severity of hot flashes day and night.
The researchers compared the frequency and severity of hot flashes with blood measurements of C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of levels of inflammation in the body and is used to determine the risk of heart disease and stroke in people who do not already have heart disease.
The results showed that hot flashes during the day were associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein, even after taking into account other possible causes such as age, body mass index (BMI), education level, race, and the hormone estradiol.
Lead author Mary Carson, a doctoral student in clinical and biological health in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement: “This is the first study to examine physiologically measured hot flashes in relation to inflammation, and the study adds evidence to a growing body of research.” “Literature suggests that hot flashes may indicate underlying vascular risks.”
What to do?
Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the world, Faubion believes that doctors should start asking patients about their experiences with hot flashes as a risk factor for future diseases.
“Women who may suffer from night sweats in particular may need to be evaluated for cardiovascular disease risk in general,” Faubion explained. “As for what to do, the recommendations will be similar to recommendations related to heart and brain health, which is to say: “You need better sleep, a proper diet, a regular exercise program, reduced stress, maintaining social connections, and doing something that stimulates the brain.”
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