Hot flushes and night sweats are associated with coronary heart disease risk in midlife: a longitudinal study

BJOG. 2015 Oct;122(11):1560-7. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.13163. Epub 2014 Nov 7.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate associations between vasomotor menopausal symptoms (VMS), i.e. hot flushes and night sweats, and the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Design: A prospective cohort study.

Setting and population: 11 725 women, aged 45-50 years at baseline in 1996, were followed up at 3-year intervals for 14 years.

Methods: Self-reported VMS and incident CHD were measured at each survey.

Main outcome measure: We determined the association between VMS and CHD at the subsequent survey, using generalised estimating equation analysis, adjusting for time-varying covariates.

Results: At baseline, 14% reported rarely, 17% reported sometimes, and 7% reported often having night sweats. During follow-up, 187 CHD events occurred. In the age-adjusted analysis, women who reported their frequency of experiencing hot flushes and night sweats as 'often' had a greater than two-fold increased odds of CHD (OR hot flushes 2.18, 95% CI 1.49-3.18; OR night sweats 2.38, 95% CI 1.62-3.50) compared with women with no symptoms (P trend < 0.001 for frequency of symptoms). Adjustment for menopausal status, lifestyle factors, body mass index, diabetes, and hypertension attenuated the associations (OR hot flushes 1.70, 95% CI 1.16-2.51, P trend = 0.01; OR night sweats 1.84, 95% CI 1.24-2.73), P trend = 0.004).

Conclusions: Women who report having hot flushes or night sweats 'often' have an increased risk of developing CHD over a period of 14 years, even after taking the effects of age, menopause status, lifestyle, and other chronic disease risk factors into account.

Keywords: Coronary heart disease; epidemiology; longitudinal analyses; menopause; vasomotor menopausal symptoms; women's health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / epidemiology
  • Hot Flashes / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sweating / physiology*