Skip to Main Content

Heart Health Explained

Hot Flashes & Night Sweats

©HighwayStarz/bigstock.com
A study published June 23, 2020 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found an association between the severity of hot flashes and night sweats in women and an increased risk of cardiovascular events.

COVID-19 and Heart Health Q&A

What’s the most important thing people should know about this study as it relates to their health?
People with severe vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats) are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (heart attack, anginal chest pain, and stroke).
What was this study seeking to determine? Has this been done before?

The study was looking to see if there was a link between symptoms women experience in menopause and their risk of cardiovascular disease. Similar studies had been done before, but they were smaller studies, the results were mixed, and they did not investigate the association between severity of symptoms and risk of cardiovascular disease.

What were the results?
The main results of the study were:
  • Women who experience vasomotor symptoms with menopause are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do not experience vasomotor symptoms.
  • Women who experience severe vasomotor symptoms have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than those with less severe symptoms.
  • The frequency of vasomotor symptoms was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Did the study reveal any differences concerning subgroups?
The study showed that the subgroups of women who experienced early vasomotor symptoms (before they reached menopause) or late vasomotor symptoms (long after they reached menopause) had a higher risk of heart disease than those who experience symptoms at the time of menopause.
What were the strengths and shortcomings of this study’s design and execution?
The strength of the study is that it was pooled from a number of international studies involving a large number (more than 23, 000) of participants.

A shortcoming of the study is that it involved symptoms reported by the patients themselves and not characterized through an objective measurement. This makes the reported severity of symptoms very subjective. In addition, the cardiovascular events of anginal chest pain, heart attacks, and strokes were also self-reported rather than confirmed through medical records.
What, if anything, should people and health care professionals do differently in the face of these findings? What are the challenges to addressing this issue?

In general, health care professionals should be recommending healthy habits to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease in all women. But this new evidence makes such recommendations especially important for women who experience early, late, or severe symptoms of menopause. Those women will need closer monitoring to detect the presence of cardiovascular disease.

HEALTH NEWS IN PERSPECTIVE

Answers to your questions on timely topics in cardiac care to help make sense of research reports in the media. The series includes questions on your heart and the effect of medications, exercise, diet, and hormones.

Team Specialist

Eric Ackah, MD, PhD, FACC, Cardiology, OhioHealth Health System

Q&A Editor

Teresa Caulin-Glaser, MD, FACC, FAACVPR System Vice President, Heart & Vascular Services OhioHealth Healthcare System, Columbus, Ohio

Heart Health Explained is a collaboration of Women’s Health Research at Yale and the OhioHealth Healthcare System, a nationally recognized not-for-profit organization with providers across 46 counties, offering a holistic approach to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of heart disease. OhioHealth is staffed by physicians, psychologists, nutritionists and nurses who answer the questions of the moment on heart and vascular health.

The information provided here may help you make more informed choices. However, it is not a substitute for an individualized medical opinion or diagnosis, and everyone should always consult with their personal physicians to make decisions about their condition or treatment.