Menstrual history may hold the key to women’s heart health: BMC Medicine

UK: A new study published in BMC Medicine has found
that menstrual cycle characteristics could be an important factor in predicting
cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in women.

The study, conducted by
researchers in the UK and using data from The Health Improvement Network, found
that women with a history of irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles were at
higher risk for a range of cardiometabolic outcomes, including ischemic heart
disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart failure, hypertension, and type 2
diabetes mellitus.

Over a 26-year period,
the retrospective cohort study followed over 704,743 women aged 18-40. Over
252,325 of these women had a history of irregular menstruation and were matched
with up to two controls. The regularity and frequency of menstrual cycles were

The primary outcome was
composite cardiovascular disease, and secondary outcomes included ischemic
heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart failure, hypertension, and type 2
diabetes mellitus.

The study found the
following clinical findings:

The study found that compared to women
with regular menstrual cycles, those with irregular cycles had higher adjusted
hazard ratios for all cardiometabolic outcomes except cerebrovascular disease.The hazard ratios were even higher for
women with infrequent or frequent menstrual cycles than those with normal frequency cycles.Menstrual history could be useful in identifying women at increased risk of cardiometabolic outcomes in
later life.

The findings of this
study are important because they highlight the need for better recognition of
menstrual cycle characteristics as a factor associated with cardiovascular
disease risk.

“Women with irregular or
infrequent menstrual cycles may benefit from more frequent evaluation of their
cardiometabolic health, which may aid in preventing or managing future
disease. As such, “this study adds to the growing body of evidence that supports
a more personalized approach to cardiovascular disease prevention and
management in women.” the researchers added.


Okoth, K., Smith, W.P., Thomas, G.N. et al. The association between menstrual cycle
characteristics and cardiometabolic outcomes in later life: a retrospective
matched cohort study of 704,743 women from the UK. BMC Med 21, 104 (2023).

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