Women With These Symptoms Are 70 Percent More Likely to Have Heart Disease

The more severe these symptoms, the more likely women are to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

You should always be paying attention to your cardiovascular health, but as you get older, you should start to take those concerns more seriously. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to know if you're at higher risk for a heart attack or stroke, as well as simple methods to reduce your risk of a cardiovascular event. According to a new study, women in particular should pay attention to one condition that researchers now believe could be a serious sign of impending heart trouble: Women who get hot flashes and night sweats are 70 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.

The research, published in June in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found a significant link between hot flashes and cardiovascular disease. Hot flashes and night sweats, also known as vasomotor symptoms (VMS), have long been suspected to have an association with heart disease. Researchers from the University of Queensland have now determined that women who have VMS after menopause are 70 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular events—heart attacks, angina, and strokes.

"Until now, it's been unclear if VMS is associated with cardiovascular disease, but now we know it to be true," study author Dongshan Zhu, MD, said in a statement.

Woman with night sweats

While the risk is much higher for women who experience these symptoms after menopause, VMS before menopause can also indicate future heart problems. According to the study, pre-menopausal VMS increases a woman's chance of heart attack or stroke by 40 percent.

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It's important to note that the study found that risk was proportional to the severity of these symptoms, not to how often they occurred. As Zhu explained, "We found that women with severe VMS were more than twice as likely to experience a non-fatal cardiovascular event compared with women who had no symptoms."

The results of this study could provide a useful tool for doctors, particularly those treating women going through menopause. Patients who report serious hot flashes and night sweats could be more closely monitored for potential heart problems, thereby reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke down the line. And for another surprising diagnostic tool, discover What Your Tongue Could Tell You About Your Heart Health.

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