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Atherosclerosis. 2006 Jan;184(1):137-42.

Menopause is an independent factor augmenting the age-related increase in arterial stiffness in the early postmenopausal phase.

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  • 1Second Department of Internal Medicine, Tokyo Medical University, 6-7-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan.

Abstract

The present study examined whether the menopause augments the age-related increase in brachial-ankle pulse-wave velocity (PWV). In total, 3149 women (ranging in age from 21 to 94 years) undergoing an annual health screening examination were enrolled in a cross-sectional study. Conventional atherosclerotic risk factors were examined, and the brachial-ankle PWV of each subject was determined. The relationship between age and the brachial-ankle PWV assumed the form of a quadratic curve, and the slope of the curve was relatively steeper after the menopause (brachial-ankle PWV = 0.17 x age2 - 0.58 x age + 812) than before (brachial-ankle PWV = 0.23 x age2 - 8.92 x age + 1058). A logistic regression analysis conducted for subjects between the ages of 45 and 56 years (mean age of menopause +/- 2 standard deviations) demonstrated that women who had experienced the menopause at least 6 years previously demonstrated a significant risk of belonging to the highest PWV tertile {adjusted odds ratio: 2.08 (95% confidential interval: 1.04-4.17)}, independent of age and other atherosclerotic risk factors (hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and smoking). Thus, this study suggested that the menopause augments the age-related increase in arterial stiffness during the early postmenopausal phase and that this augmentation is probably related, at least in part, to estrogen deficiency. The contribution of this menopause-related increase in arterial stiffness to the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women should be further evaluated.

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