A new study conducted on over 18,000 females, suggests that going through menopause at an early age (before the age of 44) might have a 17% overall better outlook on their heart rhythm, meaning they have a higher chance of not dealing with atrial fibrillation.
This means that they will be more protected against a condition called atrial fibrillation, a common rhythm disturbance of the heart which can cause serious health problems.
What is atrial fibrillation?
The heart contracts in a rhythm set up by its very own, independent pacemaker. This pacemaker, called the sinus node, is located in the wall of the right atrium, in the vicinity of the place through which the superior vena cava enters the atrium.
The electrical current initiated in the sinus node, is then transmitted to the ventricles, with a little delay, this delay makes sure that the atria contract before the ventricles and have time to empty the blood into the ventricles.
If something were to happen that would make the sinus node go haywire, the atria would contract crazily fast and will not pump the blood in the ventricles properly, which in turn will not pump enough blood into the main arteries.
The blood which is not pumped remains in the atria and can clot. These little clots that are formed can be the cause of a stroke. Also, the irregular beating pattern can lead in time, to heart failure.
How does early menopause protect against atrial fibrillation?
For a long time, it has been well establish that estrogen protects women against heart disease and when they enter menopause (estrogen is no longer secreted in the body), fatty plaques start building up in a woman`s arteries and this can cause high blood pressure and possibly a heart attack.
The results of this study still baffle researchers, but they suspect that the reason why the sinus node is protected against irregularities has something to do with the length of exposure to estrogen.
These findings are still under scrutiny and while women cannot control the age when they enter menopause, their physician might be able to understand more about their heart condition, according to this factor.
Women should be aware of the cardiovascular changes that menopause brings and should monitor their blood pressure and their heart. If they experience heart palpitations, they should bring the matter to their doctor`s attention as this is one of the signs of heart rhythm disturbances.
Over 2.5 million Americans suffer from rhythm disorders, like atrial fibrillation, and in order to prevent clots from forming and eventually leading to a stroke, blood thinners are administered, as well as drugs meant to stabilize the heart`s rhythm.
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