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Cardiovascular diseases: the duration of the menstrual cycle questioned



(ETX Daily Up) – We already know that the menstrual cycle can impact women’s physical and mental health, but a new scientific study reveals that its duration can also have consequences on the risk of cardiovascular disease. A new analysis conducted with more than 58,000 women tells us that a cycle that is too long or too short, namely not between 21 and 35 days, is associated with a higher risk of developing certain heart diseases.

We often speak of a duration of 28 days for a regular menstrual cycle, but this is obviously an average which can extend to more than thirty days for some women, and twenty days for others. others. For the purposes of this study, a team of researchers based in China estimated between 22 and 34 days the duration of a so-called regular menstrual cycle, reflecting “normal functioning of the hormonal systems connected between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the ovaries”. From this estimate, they analyzed the health data of 58,056 women aged 46 on average at the start of the study and not suffering from any cardiovascular disease. All data, including the duration and regularity of the menstrual cycle, were collected during four follow-up visits that took place in 2006-2010, 2012-2013, 2014 and 2019, all over a median follow-up period of 12 years.

An increased risk of heart disease

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, this work first revealed that 39,582 women had regular menstrual cycles, while they were irregular or absent for 18,474 participants. A rate higher than the last data published by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2017, estimating between 14% and 25% the proportion of women with irregular menstrual cycles. But the main finding of this study lies in the fact that irregular menstrual cycles, in this case considered too long or too short, would be associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and more particularly heart attack or atrial fibrillation. – a heart rhythm disorder.

“The association between menstrual cycle characteristics and adverse cardiovascular effects is not yet clear. Given the increasing prevalence of heart disease – 45% of women in Western countries are affected – and the resulting mortality , it is necessary to study these risk factors,” said Professor Huijie Zhang of Nanfang Hospital of Southern Medical University of China in a statement.

In detail, women with menstrual cycles lasting less than 21 days or more than 35 days were more likely to develop heart disease (+ 19%) than those whose cycle is between 22 and 34 days, and also had an increased risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation (+40%). The researchers also suggest that shorter menstrual cycles are more associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events (+29%) compared to cycles lasting more than 35 days (+11%). This finding is also valid for the risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation: +38% for shorter menstrual cycles, +30% for longer ones – again compared to a cycle considered regular.

The importance of prevention

“Our analysis indicates that women with menstrual cycle dysfunction may have adverse consequences for cardiovascular health. We therefore need to raise awareness that people with irregular menstrual cycles are more likely to develop heart disease. These findings have important public health implications for the prevention of atrial fibrillation and heart attacks in women and underscore the importance of monitoring the characteristics of the menstrual cycle throughout a woman’s reproductive life.” Professor Zhang, one of the lead authors of the study.

Note, however, that the study has certain limitations, such as the fact that the regularity or not of the menstrual cycle is based solely on the interpretation of the participants, that the researchers did not exclude the potential influence of the menopausal transition on said irregular menstrual cycles. , or that the age of the women studied was relatively advanced (40 to 69 years). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death among women worldwide. In 2022, a survey conducted in France by OpinionWay for the French Federation of Cardiology also revealed that, for a quarter of women, the high points of hormonal life had no impact on their cardiovascular health, or even reduced their cardiovascular health. risks.

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