Hot flashes aren’t fun, but a new study shows that they may be good for your heart. Hot flashes, night sweats and other bothersome symptoms of menopause may actually have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Emily Szmuilowicz of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago looked at medical information from 60,000 women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, and tracked them for 10 years. The study found that those who had hot flashes and night sweats early in menopause had a 17% lower risk of stroke, 11% lower likelihood of cardiovascular disease and 8% lower risk of death than women who did not have hot flashes or began having them later in menopause.
One theory is that women who experience flushing during menopause could have blood vessels that respond correctly to the change in hormone levels. This can help them to ward off the hardening of the arteries and plaque-building associated with heart disease.
Another theory is that women with symptoms of menopause see their doctors more frequently. They get the diagnostic testing they need and may be more proactive in their health care. They are also more likely to exercise and/or eat a healthy diet to contain the hot flashes. Further studies are needed.
In the mean time, do what you can to lessen the effects of hot flashes and night sweats. See your doctor to determine if you are indeed going through menopause if you have these symptoms. And don’t take this study as a reason to forget about being heart healthy.