Objectives: Conflicting evidence indicates an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women suffering from hot flushes. In this study, we tested whether, beyond hot flushes, menopausal symptoms are associated with biochemical and biophysical risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Methods: Retrospective cross-sectional analysis on 951 women in surgical or physiological postmenopause, recruited at the menopause outpatient service of our university hospital between April 2002 and December 2009. The Greene Climacteric Scale and its subscales for anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms, vasomotor symptoms and sexuality were used to evaluate menopausal complaints. Blood pressure, fasting glucose and lipids levels were evaluated as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Anthropometric parameters and those derived by remote and reproductive medical history were used as possible confounders. All data were anonymously retrieved from an electronic database.
Results: By multiple regression analysis, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol was inversely related to body mass index, the Greene Climacteric Scale score and years since menopause (R = 0.390; p = 0.0001). The total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio was positively related to waist circumference and the Greene Climacteric Scale score (R = 0.356; p = 0.0001). Triglycerides (R = 0.353; p = 0.0001) and triglyceride/HDL cholesterol (R = 0.425; p = 0.0001) were positively related to waist circumference, the Greene Climacteric Scale score and the Greene vasomotor subscore. Glucose was positively related to waist circumference, years since menopause and the Greene Climacteric Scale score (R = 0.390; p = 0.0001). Blood pressure was not related to menopausal symptoms. The 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease calculated by the Framingham formula was related independently and directly to body mass index and the Greene Climacteric Scale score (R = 0.183; p = 0.0001).
Conclusions: Menopausal symptoms evaluated by a validated climacteric scale are associated with a worsening of biochemical risk factors for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.