Endometriosis, a common gynecological condition which affects 6 percent to 10 percent of women of reproductive age, may triple the risk of heart disease in women aged 40 and younger.
New research reveals that the link between coronary heart disease and endometriosis, a painful reproductive condition caused by "misplaced" uterus tissue lining, is particularly strong in women aged 40 or younger.
The latest study involved data from 116,430 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II. Researchers noted that 11,903 of the participants had been diagnosed with endometriosis during the 20-year study.
Study analysis revealed that women suffering from endometriosis were 1.35 times more likely to need surgery or stenting to open blocked arteries, 1.52 times more likely to experience heart attack and 1.91 times more likely to develop angina.
Further analysis revealed that women aged 40 or younger suffering from endometriosis were three times more likely to develop heart attack angina or need treatment for blocked arteries compared to other women in the same age group without the condition.
"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, the study's lead author and research assistant at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Researchers believe that the increased risk of heart disease in women with endometriosis can be explained by surgical treatment to remove the uterus or ovaries. Previous studies have shown that surgically-induced menopause significantly increased the risk of heart disease. Researchers noted that those findings could also explain why younger women with the condition have a higher risk of suffering heart conditions.
"It is important for women with endometriosis - even young women - to adopt heart-healthy lifestyle habits, be screened by their doctors for heart disease, and be familiar with symptoms because heart disease remains the primary cause of death in women," said senior study author Stacey A. Missmer, director of Epidemiologic Research in Reproductive Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The findings were published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.