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Menstrual Cycle Length in Perimenopause May Predict Atherosclerosis

Changes in menstrual cycle length may help identify groups at greater or lesser risk for atherosclerosis after menopause

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MONDAY, Oct. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Patterns of menstrual cycle length over the menopause transition seem to be a marker of future vascular health, according to a study published online Oct. 13 in Menopause.

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues used data from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Daily Hormone Study to characterize trajectories of menstrual cycle length over the menopause transition and explore links to postmenopausal markers of subclinical atherosclerosis. The analysis included 428 women with 1,808 cycles during the menopause transition.

The researchers identified three distinct trajectories of cycle length: stable (no changes in cycle length during the menopause transition in 62.1 percent of women), late increase (a late increase two years before the final menstrual period in 21.8 percent), and early increase (an early increase five years before the final menstrual period in 16.2 percent). Postmenopausal levels of carotid intima-media thickness and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity were significantly lower among women with the late-increase pattern versus the stable pattern (0.72 versus 0.77 mm and 1,392 versus 1,508 cm/s, respectively) when adjusting for race, concurrent age, socioeconomic status, physical activity level, and premenopausal cardiovascular risk profile.

"This information adds to the toolkit that we are developing for clinicians who care for women in midlife to assess cardiovascular disease risk and brings us closer to personalizing prevention strategies," El Khoudary said in a statement.

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