• Tuesday, March 08th, 2011

Working in healthcare means that it’s pretty hard to get through the day without being faced with some new condition or side effect that I am convinced I’ll be facing in the future.  I think this is doubly true of women of a certain age as there really seems to be no way to avoid negative news about hitting menopause, or “the change” as some people like to delicately call it.  Not only does menopause itself sound like a drag (the hot flashes!  The mood swings!) but you also get to be more susceptible to things like bone breaks.  And schizophrenia.  Ah, the joys of being an aging woman.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I read an article in Time titled, “The Merits of Menopause.”  What’s this…merits of menopause?  Very interestingly it appears that new research shows that while hot flashes are terribly annoying, they might also be terribly helpful.  Women in their 50s and 60s going through menopause and experiencing hot flashes have an 11% lower risk of heart disease over the next ten years as compared to women who don’t experience the same symptoms.  The research goes on to note that because heart-disease risk increases in post-menopausal years (as beneficial estrogen declines) this amount of risk reduction is potentially lifesaving.  Perhaps more interesting is that this research contradicts some previous data that linked menopausal symptoms to things like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Apparently the previous studies may have included older women who were not actually experiencing symptoms of menopause, but the symptoms of heart disease.  In fact, the current study showed that women reporting hot flashes after menopause were 23% more likely to experience a heart event than those women who endured the symptoms during menopause.

So ladies you may now have a reason to rejoice for those moments of heat and sweat and think about the fact that all that flushing in the face seems to be flushing the heart and vessels at the same time.  Now if I could only find some happy data on the mood swings…

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