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ASA: Early Menopause Linked to Ischemic Stroke

Risk is twice as high among women who experience natural menopause before age 42

FRIDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Early menopause may be a risk factor for ischemic stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference held Feb. 17 to 20 in San Diego.

Lynda D. Lisabeth, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues studied 1,430 women in the Framingham Heart Study who were stroke-free until age 60, experienced natural menopause at an average age of 49 and did not use estrogen before menopause.

During follow-up, the researchers identified 234 ischemic strokes. Compared to women who experienced menopause before age 42, they found that those who experienced menopause at ages 42-54 and 55-plus had a significantly lower stroke risk (hazard ratios, 0.50 and 0.31, respectively). They also found that women who experienced menopause before age 42 were twice as likely to have a stroke as other women (hazard ratio, 2.03).

"Given the increased stroke burden in women, it is critical to understand risk factors unique to women so that new strategies for prevention can be considered," the authors write. "Future studies, with measures of endogenous hormones, are needed to unravel the relationship between hormonal changes that occur with menopause, either premature or at the usual onset, and ischemic stroke."

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