Easing worries for women with migraines and hot flashes

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For many women in their middle years, concerns about the risk of heart disease or stroke can be a source of worry, especially if they experience migraines, hot flashes, or night sweats.

These symptoms, common during and after menopause, have been thought to possibly increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, based on previous studies.

However, recent research offers some reassurance and clarifies who might need to pay more attention to their heart health.

In two new studies published in the journal Menopause, researchers found that the majority of women don’t need to be overly concerned about an increased cardiovascular risk from migraines and menopausal symptoms alone, unless they have both conditions over many years.

The key message from these studies is that focusing on a healthy lifestyle—such as getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well, quitting smoking, and keeping an eye on blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight—is essential for reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

For women who do experience both migraines and long-term hot flashes or night sweats, there’s an indication of higher cardiovascular risk, highlighting the importance of prevention strategies in this group.

Additionally, younger women in their 20s and 30s who have migraines might face a greater risk of enduring menopausal symptoms later in life.

These insights come from an analysis of data collected from over 1,900 women who participated in a long-term study, called the CARDIA study, starting in their late teens to early 30s and continuing into their 50s and 60s.

This study has provided valuable information on how various factors affect health before, during, and after menopause.

The researchers discovered that a significant number of middle-aged women reported persistent hot flashes and night sweats, known as vasomotor symptoms (VMS), which are related to changes in blood vessel diameter.

A smaller percentage of these women also experienced migraines. It was this specific group that showed an additional risk of cardiovascular events, like stroke or heart attack, not accounted for by other known risk factors.

Interestingly, the study also found that factors such as migraines, depression, smoking, being Black, or having a lower level of education were predictors of who would experience persistent VMS.

This emphasizes that not all women have the same experiences as they age, and many have the power to influence their risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association has outlined “Essential 8” risk factors that people can manage to improve their heart health.

By focusing on these, women can significantly influence their future health outcomes, reducing both menopausal symptoms and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Advancements in treatment for migraines, such as new medications and understanding of triggers, offer hope for better management of these conditions.

For menopausal symptoms, strategies like healthy sleep habits, certain hormone therapies, and possibly antidepressants are being explored for their benefits without increasing cardiovascular risk.

In conclusion, while the connection between migraines, menopausal symptoms, and cardiovascular risk is complex, these studies offer reassuring news.

By focusing on healthy lifestyle choices and managing risk factors, most women can look forward to healthier years ahead, with a clearer understanding of how to protect their heart health.

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For more information about health, please see recent studies about the connection between potatoes and high blood pressure,  and results showing why turmeric is a health game-changer.

The research findings can be found in Menopause.

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