Menopause Per se Is Associated with Coronary Artery Calcium Score: Results from the ELSA-Brasil

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2022 Jan;31(1):23-30. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2021.0182. Epub 2021 Sep 14.


Background: Menopause and aging deteriorate the metabolic profile, but little is known about how they independently contribute to structural changes in coronary arteries. We compared a broad cardiometabolic risk profile of women according to their menopausal status and investigated if menopause per se is associated with presence of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in the ELSA-Brasil. Materials and Methods: All participants, except perimenopausal women, who had menopause <40 years or from non-natural causes or reported use of hormone therapy were included. Sample was stratified according to menopause and age categories (premenopause ≤45 years, premenopause >45 years, and postmenopause); their clinical profile and computed tomography-determined CAC were compared using Kruskal-Wallis and chi squared test for frequencies. Associations of CAC (binary variable) with menopause categories adjusted for traditional and nontraditional covariables were tested using logistic regression. Results: From 2,047 participants 51 ± 9 years of age, 1,175 were premenopausal (702 ≤ 45 years) and 872 were postmenopausal women. Mean values of anthropometric variables, blood pressure, lipid and glucose parameters, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), and homeosthasis model assessment (HOMA-IR), as well as frequencies of morbidities, were more favorable in premenopausal, particularly in younger ones. In crude analyses, CAC >0 was associated with triglyceride-rich lipoprotein remnants, dense low-density lipoprotein, BCAA, and other variables, but not with HOMA-IR. Menopause was independently associated with CAC >0 (odds ratios 2.37 [95% confidence interval 1.17-4.81]) when compared to the younger premenopausal group. Conclusion: Associations of menopause with CAC, independent of traditional and nontraditional cardiovascular risk factors, suggest that hormonal decline per se may contribute to calcium deposition in coronary arteries.

Keywords: CAC; branched-chain amino acids; coronary calcium; lipoprotein subfractions; menopause.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium*
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Premenopause
  • Risk Factors


  • Calcium