Hot flushes can make a menopausal woman’s life a misery.
The uncomfortable and embarrassing symptom affects three in every four women going through the menopause, with some suffering up to 20 attacks a day.
Yet, hot flushes may be a sign of something more sinister, particularly in younger midlife women.
A study has found frequent hot flushes in women aged 40 to 53 may be a sign of blood vessel damage, which can cause heart disease.
Hot flushes are also thought to prevent blood vessels’ ability to dilate, which can cause high blood pressure.
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Hot flushes are thought to be caused by hormonal changes affecting the body’s ability to control its temperature.
Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director, the North American Menopause Society, said: ‘Hot flushes are not just a nuisance.
‘In this study, physiologically measured hot flushes appear linked to cardiovascular changes occurring early during the menopause transition.’
Scientists analysed 272 nonsmoking women aged 40 to 60 who reported either daily or no hot flushes.
The women had an ultrasound scan on their arteries to determine any blood vessel damage.
The scientists found no association between hot flushes and heart disease risk in women aged 54 to 60.
Researchers hope the study’s results will help doctors to assess the heart disease risk of women going through an early menopause.
The average woman in the UK starts the menopause aged 51.
Around one in a 100 women experience the menopause before they turn 40.
This comes after scientists from Imperial College London unveiled a new drug that may offer an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women going through the menopause.
Many women suffer the effects of the menopause as they are concerned over the safety of HRT, which has been linked to breast cancer and heart disease.
WHAT IS AN EARLY MENOPAUSE?
Early menopause is known as premature ovarian failure (POF).
Women are typically diagnosed with POF if their periods stop before the age of 45.
POF occurs when the ovaries stop working.
This can be due to conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.
POF can also occur due to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, such as ovary removal.
Women with POF are a greater risk of osteoporosis as they produce less osetrogen, which strengthens bones.
Source: NHS Choices