Endometriosis: The Unexpected Women’s Health Issue Boosting Heart Attack Risk

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, even surpassing breast cancer, and new research continues to reveal various risk factors for this growing threat. A recent study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes has identified endometriosis as a significant contributor to heart diseases.

Endometriosis and Your Heart

Data gathered from a 20-year follow-up of the Nurse’s Health Study II found that women diagnosed with endometriosis are one and a half times more likely to experience a heart attack than women never diagnosed with the condition. Endometriosis strikes more than 6 million women each year, primarily in their 30s and 40s. It can cause reproductive problems and carries an increased risk for certain cancers.

The study also discovered that women with endometriosis were 1.35 times more likely to require surgery or stenting to open blocked arteries and 1.91 times more likely to develop angina (chest pain). “Women with endometriosis should be aware that they may be at higher risk for heart disease compared to women without endometriosis, and this increased risk may be highest when they are young,” said Fan Mu, Sc.D., the lead author of the study.

Surgical Treatment and Heart Disease Risk

Researchers pointed out that surgical treatment of endometriosis, which includes the removal of the uterus or ovaries, might partially account for the increased risk of heart disease. Surgically-induced menopause prior to natural menopause can increase the risk of heart disease. This elevated risk may be more apparent in younger women.

This information is a crucial step in understanding heart disease in women and enabling them to address heart-related issues with their healthcare practitioners.

Reducing Risk of Heart Disease

While some factors, such as age and genetics, cannot be controlled, making lifestyle changes can significantly reduce heart disease risk. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can decrease the chances of developing heart disease or lessen the severity of existing conditions.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced, low-fat diet is crucial towards promoting heart health. Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Minimize the intake of saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.

Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity provides many benefits, including lowering blood pressure, boosting “good” HDL cholesterol, and controlling weight. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity each week, or a combination of both.

Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease. Quitting smoking can significantly lower the risk of heart problems, such as atherosclerosis and blood clot formation.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol in moderation can have some heart benefits. However, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to conditions like heart failure and high blood pressure. Maintain a responsible intake—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors that may increase heart disease risk. Practice healthy coping mechanisms like meditation, exercise, or hobbies, and seek support from friends and family when needed.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the connection between endometriosis and heart disease is essential in identifying new risk factors for women. Implementing heart-healthy lifestyle choices is key in reducing the risk of developing heart disease and minimizing the impact of existing conditions. By being proactive about your health, you can make a positive difference in lowering the risk of heart disease and improving your overall well-being.