Hot flashes linked to Alzheimer’s disease risk

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In a recent study highlighted at the Menopause Society 2023 Annual Meeting, a correlation was found between the number of hot flashes experienced and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Hot flashes linked to Alzheimer’s disease risk | Image Credit: © insta_photos - © insta_photos - stock.adobe.com.

Hot flashes linked to Alzheimer’s disease risk | Image Credit: © insta_photos - © insta_photos - stock.adobe.com.

Hot flashes might be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in women undergoing menopause transition, especially when experienced during sleep, according to recent data highlighted at The Menopause Society 2023 Annual Meeting.

Takeaways

  • Hot flashes during sleep may serve as an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in women going through the menopause transition. This finding was presented at The Menopause Society 2023 Annual Meeting.
  • The link between women and AD has long been associated with decreasing estrogen levels during menopause. Hot flashes, a common symptom of menopause, have been connected to changes in brain function, structure, connectivity, and decreased memory performance.
  • While AD biomarkers have been useful in predicting AD risk, there has been limited research on the connection between hot flashes and AD biomarkers. A study involving 250 individuals found a potential association between hot flashes during sleep and an increased risk of AD dementia.
  • The study was led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois at Chicago, using ambulatory skin conductance monitoring to measure hot flashes. The risk of AD was found to be higher with an increased number of hot flashes, even after adjusting for estradiol levels and sleep characteristics.
  • This research highlights the importance of open communication between patients and healthcare professionals, as early signs like hot flashes may provide an opportunity for proactive intervention before the onset of AD, given its significant impact on quality of life and financial burden.

Of individuals with AD, 2 in 3 are women. Theories on why this is the case often focus on decreasing estrogen levels observed during the menopause transition. Research has indicated hot flashes, one of the most common symptoms of menopause, are associated with alterations in the brain function, structure, and connectivity, as well as decreased memory performance.

There is little data on the association between hot flashes and AD biomarkers. Recently, AD biomarkers have been useful for predicting AD risk decades before AD dementia incidence. Investigators conducted a study to evaluate 250 adverse AD biomarker profiles for an association with hot flashes.

The study was led by Rebecca Thurston, PhD, FAMBR, FAPS, director of women's biobehavioral health at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry; and Pauline Maki, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. They found a potential association between hot flashes while sleeping and an increased risk of AD dementia.

Ambulatory skin conductance monitoring was used to measure hot flashes. An increased number of hot flashes was directly correlated with a strengthened risk of AD. Significant findings were observed even after adjustments were made for estradiol and actigraphy-assessed sleep characteristics.

"Given the adverse effect on quality of life and financial burden of AD, it's important that we learn as much as possible about potential causes and warning signs so we can be proactive before the onset of AD," said Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, medical director of The Menopause Society. "This study underscores the need for ongoing open dialogues between patients and their healthcare professionals so that any treatment options can be carefully considered."

Reference

Hot flashes yet another early indicator for Alzheimer's disease. The Menopause Society. September 27, 2023. Accessed September 27, 2023.

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