Researchers investigated whether the decline of hormone levels could leave them more vulnerable to cardiovascular disease. The study analysed data from 1.4 million Korean women who took part in health screening through the country’s National Health Insurance System.
Those who experienced premature menopause had a 33 percent higher risk of heart failure 9 percent higher risk of atrial fibrillation – a condition that causes an irregular heart rhythm – during an average follow up period of nine years.
Around 1 percent of women are thought to be affected by menopause occurring before the age of 40.
Study author Dr Ga Eun Nam, of Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul, said: “Women with premature menopause should be aware that they may be more likely to develop heart failure or atrial fibrillation than their peers.”
“This may be good motivation to improve lifestyle habits known to be linked with heart disease, such as quitting smoking and exercising.”
Menopause causes a decline in natural oestrogen levels and changes body fat distribution, making women more predisposed to problems such as high blood pressure which increase risk of heart issues.
Dr Nam added: “The misconception that heart disease primarily affects men has meant that sex-specific risk factors have been largely ignored.”
“Evidence is accumulating that undergoing menopause before the age of 40 may increase the likelihood of heart disease later in life.”
“Our study indicates that reproductive history should be routinely considered in addition to traditional risk factors such as smoking when evaluating the future likelihood of heart failure and atrial fibrillation.”
The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.