An Australian study in The Lancet Public Health, which found that women with premature and early menopause were at significantly increased risk of having a non-fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD) event before age 60, has consequential public health and clinical implications.
“The doubling of cardiovascular disease risk in women below the age of 60 years who have premature menopause is concerning and indicates an urgent need to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease risk in younger women,” commented two English health professionals not involved in the study: Lizelle Bernhardt, RN, CLAHRC-EM, a PhD student and heart failure specialist nurse in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (UK), and Claire Lawson, PhD, a nurse data scientist at the Diabetes Research Center at the university.
With up to 10% of women experiencing early natural menopause, this population represents a potential target for early and tailored risk stratification.
Bernhardt and Dr. Lawson, whose comments appeared in the same publication, said a common misconception among health professionals and the general public is that cardiovascular disease mostly affects men, at least until older age. The two writers noted that such sex-bias about CVD needs to be confronted, “with emphasis on the increasing risk in younger women, in addition to new sex-specific preventative and therapeutic strategies for reducing and managing cardiovascular disease in women.”
Currently, though, sex-specific risk factors are lacking in cardiovascular disease risk algorithms like QRISK and the Framingham Risk Score, which focus on traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors.