Do I have a lowered risk of heart disease if I underwent surgical menopause?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 05, 2016
Beatbreastcancer asked...

I recently read the article about the lowered risk of heart disease experienced in women with early symptoms of menopause; hot flashes, night sweats, etc. I had my ovaries removed at 46 to help with my fight against hormone-receptive breast cancer, and immediately began experiencing these symptoms. I'd like to know if the heart benefits would apply to me with my "surgical menopause". Thanks!

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Reading your question, I looked for the article you read. I believe it is from the journal "Menopause" published online 2/24/11. It was a study of 60,000 postmenopausal (naturally) women:

"Our study provides reassurance that the classic symptoms of early menopause...are not a marker of an increased risk of heart attack or stroke in the future," study co-author Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in a journal news release. In other words, getting hot flashes earlier in life doesn't mean you are at increased risk of heart disease.

Menopause itself increases the risk for heart disease dramatically. This is because estrogen levels drop, and estrogen is heart protective. In younger women who have undergone "surgical menopause" and are not taking estrogen, their risk for heart disease is higher.

Since you have already entered menopause, you need to watch your heart health closely. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, watch your weight, control your blood pressure and cholesterol. Good luck!