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Circulation. 2008 Sep 16;118(12):1234-40. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.776823. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Hot flashes and subclinical cardiovascular disease: findings from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Heart Study.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pa, USA.



Although evidence suggests adverse vascular changes among women with hot flashes, it is unknown whether hot flashes are associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to examine relations between menopausal hot flashes and indices of subclinical cardiovascular disease. We hypothesized that women with hot flashes would show reduced flow-mediated dilation and greater coronary artery and aortic calcification compared with women without hot flashes.


The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Heart Study (2001 to 2003) is an ancillary study to the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, a community-based cohort study. Participants were 492 women (35% black, 65% white) 45 to 58 years of age who were free of clinical cardiovascular disease and had a uterus and at least 1 ovary. Measures included a brachial artery ultrasound to assess flow-mediated dilation, electron beam tomography to assess coronary artery and aortic calcification, reported hot flashes (any/none, previous 2 weeks), and a blood sample for measurement of estradiol concentrations. Cross-sectional associations were evaluated with linear regression and partial proportional odds models. Hot flashes were associated with significantly lower flow-mediated dilation (beta=-1.01; SE, 0.41; P=0.01) and greater coronary artery (odds ratio, 1.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.04 to 2.12) and aortic (odds ratio, 1.55; 95% confidence interval, 1.10 to 2.19) calcification in age- and race-adjusted models. Significant associations between hot flashes and flow-mediated dilation (beta=-0.97; SE, 0.44; P=0.03) and aortic calcification (odds ratio, 1.63; 95% confidence interval, 1.07 to 2.49) remained in models adjusted for cardiovascular disease risk factors and estradiol.


Women with hot flashes had reduced flow-mediated dilation and greater aortic calcification. Hot flashes may mark adverse underlying vascular changes among midlife women.

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