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Women's Health

White Menopausal Women Have Lower Risk of Dying from Heart Attack Than Men or Black Women Do

While menopause is commonly considered a risk factor for heart disease, menopausal women had a lower risk of dying from heart attack than men, according to research done at the University of Michigan and published in July 2015 in the Journal of the American Heart Association. However, this difference was less pronounced among blacks.

A release from the association notes that in the first study to compare men and women and how menopause impacts the risk of heart attack, the researchers studied 23,086 black and white adults over age 45 and found the following that 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.

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.

The release quotes lead author Catherine Kim, M.D., M.P.H, an associate professor of medicine in the departments of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, as saying, “Our findings showed that the advantage to going through natural menopause wasn’t much higher than surgical menopause. 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.”