Research Article

Increased risk of atherosclerosis in women after the menopause.

BMJ 1989; 298 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.298.6674.642 (Published 11 March 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;298:642
  1. J. C. Witteman,
  2. D. E. Grobbee,
  3. F. J. Kok,
  4. A. Hofman,
  5. H. A. Valkenburg
  1. Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical School, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

    Abstract

    An increase in the incidence of cardiovascular disease has generally been observed in postmenopausal women, but there have been few studies of the association between menopausal state and atherosclerosis. In this study 294 premenopausal and 319 postmenopausal women aged 45 to 55 were examined radiographically for calcified deposits in the abdominal aorta, which have been shown to represent intimal atherosclerosis. Aortic atherosclerosis was present in eight (3%) of the premenopausal women and in 38 (12%) of the postmenopausal women. After adjustments for age and other indicators of cardiovascular risk women with a natural menopause had a 3.4 times greater risk of atherosclerosis than premenopausal women (95% confidence interval 1.2 to 9.7; p less than 0.05); women who had had a bilateral oophorectomy had a 5.5 times greater risk (1.9 to 15.8; p less than 0.005). No excess risk of atherosclerosis was observed among women who had had a hysterectomy without removal of both ovaries. These results suggest that when oestrogen production stops, either naturally or after surgery, the risk of atherosclerosis is increased.