Early menopause is associated with several health problems and one of them is heart disease, says a new study. 

The research published in the medical journal Lancet Public Health earlier this month stated that women who experience menopause early in their lives are at increased risk of several cardiovascular problems

These women are more likely to suffer from heart attack or stroke before they celebrate their 60th birthday, said the study.  A major reason could be an unhealthy lifestyle with the consumption of junk foods and harmful habits, like smoking and drinking. 

Senior study author Gita Mishra from the University of Queensland in Brisbane in Australia suggested that their findings can play a vital role in identifying the women who are at increased risk of having heart problems.  It may also help in closer monitoring, earlier diagnosis and even prevention of the disease, she added. 

"Heart disease is a leading cause of illness and death for women. For women who are experiencing earlier menopause, active management of other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as avoiding cigarette smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight are all the more important for reducing their overall risk of cardiovascular disease," the researcher told Reuters.

For the study, the research team analyzed the data of 15 observational studies that included over 300,000 women.  Of the participants in the study, 13,000 had survived a stroke or heart attack post menopause.

The research team then compared the results of women who experienced early menopause with those who had menopause at age 50. During the comparison, they found that premature menopausal women had higher chances of having stroke or heart attack after menopause than those who experience it at a later stage in life.

Women who went through premature menopause before age 40 had a 55 percent higher chance of experiencing stroke or heart attack than those who experienced it when they turned 50 or 51, the research team noted.

The researchers also stated that women who experienced early menopause between age 40 and 44 had a 30 percent higher risk of several heart problems post menopause. With menopause from age 45 to 49, the risk of several cardiovascular diseases reduced to 12 percent, they noted.

Women who experience premature menopause before age 40 must consult with their healthcare professionals for regular monitoring of various risks related to cardiovascular disease, lead researcher Mishra advised.

One of the major limitations of the study is that most of the heart problems were self-reported by the study’s participants and they were not confirmed by any medical records. Secondly, the research was not designed to prove if menopause timing is directly tied to cardiovascular problems and if so, how.

stroke Researchers said depression and stroke combined kills about 137,000 Americans each year. Photo: Reuters