menopause

Could hot flashes indicate risk of heart disease?

Study shows younger midlife women with hot flashes more likely to have poor vascular function

Hot flashes, one of the most common symptoms of menopause, have already been shown to interfere with a woman’s overall quality of life. A new study shows that, particularly for younger midlife women (age 40-53 years), frequent hot flashes may also signal emerging vascular dysfunction that can lead to heart disease. The study outcomes are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

The study involving 272 nonsmoking women aged 40 to 60 years is the first to test the relationship between physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial cell (the inner lining of the blood vessels) function. The effect of hot flashes on the ability of blood vessels to dilate was documented only in the younger fertile of women in the sample. There was no association observed in the older women (age 54-60 years), indicating that early occurring hot flashes may be those most relevant to heart disease risk. The associations were independent of other heart disease risk factors.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. The results from the study, “Physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial function among midlife women,” may offer valuable information for healthcare providers working to assess the risk of heart disease in their menopausal patients. Hot flashes are reported by 70% of women, with approximately one-third of them describing them as frequent or severe. Newer data indicate that hot flashes often start earlier than previously thought — possibly during the late reproductive years — and persist for a decade or more. “Hot flashes are not just a nuisance. They have been linked to cardiovascular, bone, and brain health,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. “In this study, physiologically measured hot flashes appear linked to cardiovascular changes occurring early during the menopause transition.”

 


 

Story Source:Materials provided by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Rebecca C. Thurston, Yuefang Chang, Emma Barinas-Mitchell, J. Richard Jennings, Roland von Känel, Doug P. Landsittel, Karen A. Matthews. Physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial function among midlife women. Menopause, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000857

 

Women who enter menopause at or before age 40 more susceptible to bone fracture

If you’re in menopause before the age of 40, you have a higher fracture risk. That fact has already been proven by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trials. Now a new study evaluating the same WHI data further concludes that, even with calcium and vitamin D supplements, your risk of fracture is still higher. The study is being published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

For years, calcium and vitamin D have been touted for their abilities to increase bone mineral density. Hormone therapy is also recognized for its ability to help ward off osteoporosis. That’s what prompted this latest study to evaluate the effectiveness of calcium, vitamin D, and/or hormones in offsetting the higher fracture risks for women experiencing early menopause. Based on an evaluation of nearly 22,000 women included in the WHI trials, women aged younger than 40 years already in menopause had significantly higher risks for fracture than women who experienced menopause between the ages of 40 and 49 or after 50, regardless of treatment intervention.

Although the findings are disappointing for women experiencing an early onset of menopause, the study did open the door to a number of questions and possibilities. For example, women with early menopause are candidates for hormone therapy until at least the average age of menopause (52 years) to reduce the risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and cognitive and mood changes. It is possible that earlier initiation of treatment for those with early menopause with calcium, vitamin D, or hormones; more appropriate dosing of young women, longer duration of treatment; or longer duration of follow-up could provide better bone protection and ultimately reduce fracture risk.

“This study highlights the need for healthcare providers to take into consideration a woman’s age at menopause onset when evaluating patients for fracture risk,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “Women at risk for bone loss need 1,200 mg of calcium per day, with adequate vitamin D, and encouraged to get as much as possible through diet due to concern that too much supplemental calcium may increase atherosclerotic plaque in women. Women with early menopause should discuss whether they are candidates for hormone therapy with their providers, appropriate amount of calcium, vitamin D and hormones.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “Link between early menopause, higher risk of fracture, new study confirms.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161102155224.htm.

Symptoms And Treatments of Menopause Explained

For women, the menopause typically starts between the ages of 45 and 55.

It can be extremely debilitating and can cause anything from hot flushes to depression to decreased sex drive – in fact one quarter of women over 40 say their sex life is non-existent thanks to menopause.

The symptoms can last between two and five years, which means it’s really important to seek out treatment if you’re finding the experience unbearable. To help you on your way, we spoke to Dr Helen Webberley from Oxford Online Pharmacy about what treatments are available. She also gave her verdict on whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is safe.

The end of a woman’s reproductive life is marked by a reduction in the function of the ovaries. When this finally stops, the menopause begins.

“Generally speaking, for a woman over the age of fifty, the menopause can be said to have taken place one year after the last period, or two years after the last period in the under fifties,” explains Dr Webberley.

Read the full story …

Menopause: an ever changing journey through life

OBGYN picPeople speak about menopause as if it is a fixed thing, but in reality it is anything but. Not only does each woman experience it differently both in terms of actual symptoms and their severity but over time those symptoms may lessen, worsen, or change into something entirely new.

The hormone rollercoaster

We all know that at menopause the levels of oestrogen and progesterone start to drop and something many women notice is that their periods can be closer together or get longer or heavier. This is really common and due to the way that your hormonal balance is starting to change. At this point, your progesterone levels will be falling faster than your oestrogen, so your oestrogen just keeps triggering a menstruation and a bleed, particularly if you are very oestrogen dominant.

Hormones don’t stand still, they respond to the internal stimulus from our ovaries, but also to the external stimulus of stress, medications and environmental factors. That is why however well you may be taking care of yourself, not all factors are able to be under your control and your body cleverly prioritises what is the main thing to deal with. Unfortunately it is your body that decides, not you, so if you are dealing with illness, stress or infection the body diverts its resources to dealing with those.

Read the full story here ….

New Study Results: More than one-third of perimenopausal women develop insomnia

tired womanMillions of women may likely be sleep-deprived. It’s already a known fact that women are more predisposed to insomnia. Now a new study presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) earlier this month suggests that perimenopausal women have an even greater risk for developing insomnia. Considering that perimenopause will affect roughly 500 million women within the next decade, that’s a lot of tired women.

What’s worse is that the study found that insomnia symptoms are likely to get worse and more prevalent in the later stages of perimenopause (the transition period to menopause). In fact, the odds of having any one symptom of insomnia were 1.3 times greater for those in late stage versus early stage of perimenopause. The odds of developing chronic insomnia were 1.5 times greater for those in perimenopause than pre-perimenopause.

“We found that there was a lot of research regarding insomnia in general but very little that addressed the insomnia trajectory in one of the higher risk groups of women–those transitioning to menopause,” says Dr. Colleen Ciano of the College of Nursing at The Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the study. Read the full story on Science Daily ….

A Look at Complementary Therapies and Alternative Medicine for National Menopause Awareness Month

September is National Menopause Awareness Month which is aimed at helping women to understand and embrace menopause in lieu of suffering from its symptoms. To celebrate, the Women’s OBGYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa takes a look at healthy ways women can work with the physical changes caused by menopause.

The severity of menopausal symptoms will vary among woman. A healthcare provider specializing in menopause is expert in helping patients find the best way to address lifestyle expectations and relief from uncomfortable symptoms with the latest treatment options, including hormone therapy. At the same time complementary therapies offer a variety of alternative treatments and products that can relieve symptoms for many menopausal women. While these treatment options may fall outside of what can be called conventional medicine, there are many therapies that are considered safe and effective.

What is Menopause?

Menopause marks the stage of a woman’s life when her body has transitioned from regularly producing estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries to its post-menopausal state. This process occurs naturally in women typically between the ages of 40 and 60, but there are also natural causes and voluntary procedures that can induce premature menopause such as the removal of both ovaries due to treatments for cancer, disease or trauma, and hysterectomy.

Symptoms arise in most women as the body adjusts to new hormone levels. Common, though generally mild symptoms which can be treated effectively with complementary therapies include; hot flashes, sleep difficulties, and stress-induced muscle pains, etc. Examples of complimentary therapies for these types of symptoms include;

  • massage
  • herbal & dietary supplements
  • yoga, tai chi, qi gong
  • biofeedback, meditation
  • exercise

Massage

Massage therapy can offer safe and effective relief for many women experiencing menopause, at any stage. Typical symptoms of menopause can be intensified by feelings of anxiety and fatigue which in turn can cause additional pain in the back, neck and shoulders. Massage therapy as well as other forms of bodywork actually allows the body to relax, offering relief from anxiety and stress. Massage therapy is well known for its ability to relieve headaches and body tension, and increased range of motion. It can also help women reconnect with the natural rhythms of their bodies during menopause. Massage also improves flexibility by stimulating the natural lubricants between connective tissue, helping to alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain caused by menopausal stress. Another aspect of massage that may help improve hormonal imbalances caused by menopause is reflexology which is an ancient method of massaging acupressure points, most commonly in the hands and feet.

Herbal & Dietary Supplements for Menopause

Although research has yet to provide the necessary scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of many complementary health practices, women are discovering symptom relief during the menopausal transition with the wise use of herbal and dietary supplements. To that end, it is vital that patients discuss all complementary therapies they are using with their physician, as not all are proven safe and/or effective and some supplements can interfere with conventional treatments. The physicians at Women’s OBGYN Medical Group are happy to help provide individualized guidance for complimentary therapies, including herbal and dietary support.

Some commonly talked about supplements include;

Flaxseed contains substances called lignins which are important modulators of hormone metabolism.

Dong quai is touted for its ability to support and maintain the natural balance of female hormones. However, this is one of the herbs commonly recommended for menopause that should not be taken if a woman is experiencing heavy bleeding.

Black cohosh is one of the best-studied traditional herbs for menopause commonly used for hot flashes. Black cohosh may work by maintaining hormonal levels, which may lessen the severity of hot flashes, although it isn’t effective for everyone.

Taking in magnesium-rich foods or supplements helps strengthen bones and prevent conditions like osteoporosis, which can develop during menopause. Maintaining strong bones throughout menopause can help prevent bone fractures and serious injury. Magnesium is also known to help reduce common symptoms of menopause such as insomnia, tissue dryness, mood swings, anxiety, irritability and water-retention and it can also help improve energy levels, which may decline during menopause.

Evening primrose oil is a good source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help influence prostaglandin synthesis and help moderate menopausal symptoms.

A daily dose of 400 IUs of natural vitamin E has proven to help alleviate symptoms of hot flashes in some menopausal women.

Water-soluble B-vitamins may also help women deal with the emotional stress of menopausal symptoms.

Yoga, tai chi, qi gong

A 2010 National Institute of Health (NIH) review of 21 papers evaluated mind and body therapies for menopausal symptoms where researchers found that yoga, tai chi and meditation-based programs may be helpful in reducing common menopausal symptoms including the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, sleep and mood disturbances, stress and muscle and joint pain.

Biofeedback, Meditation

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, many nonprescription techniques may relieve the symptoms of menopause including meditation, acupuncture, hypnosis, biofeedback and deep breathing exercises. Many of these exercises involve focusing attention inward and eliminating stressful thoughts. While this type of relaxation helps reduce stress immediately, it can also help a person to better deal with stress throughout the day.

Exercise

Weight gain is common after menopause and as many as 30 percent of women ages 50 to 59 are not just overweight today, they are obese. Lack of estrogen may cause the body to use starches and blood sugar less effectively, which may indeed increase fat storage and make it harder for women of a menopausal age to lose weight. There is a way that mature women can avoid this particular symptom of menopause while helping to reduce the risk of many other health problems associated with aging; by adopting a routine of aerobic exercise.

A National Institutes of Health review showed that people who took part in aerobic activities every day for just 10 or more minutes had as many as six fewer inches around the waistline, compared to people who didn’t exercise. A regular routine of aerobic activity can help lower the risk of many menopausal symptoms including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and relief of depression and anxiety.

Professional, Compassionate Care throughout the Menopausal Years

Complementary therapies are not covered by most insurance, so it is important to check with your insurance provider when considering trying these therapies in conjunction with any conventional treatments. Physicians and nurses at the Women’s OBGYN Medical Group carry decades of experience providing professional, compassionate treatment and advice to women going through menopause, and it brings our practice great satisfaction to help ease the emotional and physical discomfort that comes with it. To learn more visit our website or call (707) 579-1102.