Public Release: 

Menopausal women have lower risk of dying from heart attack than men

Journal of the American Heart Association report

American Heart Association

DALLAS, July 1, 2015 -- While menopause is commonly considered a risk factor for heart disease, menopausal women had a lower risk of dying from heart attack than men; however, this difference was less pronounced among blacks, according to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

In the first study to compare men and women and how menopause types impact risk of heart attack, researchers studied 23,086 black and white adults over age 45 and found:

White women who had surgical-induced menopause had a 35 percent reduced risk of non-fatal heart attacks or other cardiac events compared to white men. The reduced risk was 55 percent for natural menopause.

However, the risk of having a non-fatal cardiac event was less pronounced and not statistically significant in black women and men. Black women who had surgical-induced menopause had a 19 percent reduced risk of non-fatal events compared to black men. The reduced risk was 31 percent for natural menopause.

The differences observed for natural and surgical menopause were not statistically significant, suggesting that surgical menopause may not increase women's risk to a large extent.

"Our findings showed that the advantage to going through natural menopause wasn't much higher than surgical menopause, said Catherine Kim, M.D., M.P.H., the study's lead author and an associate professor of medicine in the departments of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"Black women should be aware that the belief that women have a lower risk of heart disease than men may not necessarily apply to them. So, it is particularly important for black women to engage in healthy preventive behaviors, such as exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. But all women should adopt healthy behaviors, since heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in women."


Co-authors are Catherine Kim, M.D., M.P.H.; Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc.; Yulia Khodneva, M.D., Ph.D.; Lynda D. Lisabeth, Ph.D.; Suzanne Judd, Ph.D.; Dawn O. Kleindorfer, M.D.; Virginia J. Howard, Ph.D.; and Monika M. Safford, M.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services funded the study.

Additional Resources:

Heart attack animation and illustrations are available in the right column of the release link

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