Endometriosis Tied to Increased Risk for Heart Disease

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Women with endometriosis, especially those under 40, are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, a new study has found.

Endometriosis, the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus, may affect as many as 10 percent of women in their reproductive years. It can cause pelvic pain, painful menstruation, painful sexual intercourse and reduced fertility.

The analysis, in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, included 116,430 women free of heart disease and stroke at the start of the study. By the end of a 20-year follow-up period, 11,903 of the women had been given a diagnosis of endometriosis.

After adjustment for pregnancies, alcohol intake, physical activity, body mass index, diabetes and more than a dozen other factors, they found that women with endometriosis were 52 percent more likely to have had a heart attack, 91 percent more likely to have had angina and 35 percent more likely to have undergone coronary surgery.

This was a prospective study with a large sample and a long follow-up, factors which give it considerable strength.

“Women diagnosed with endometriosis need to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” said the lead author, Fan Mu, who was a student at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital when the work was done. “And they should be familiar with the symptoms of heart attack and angina, which are not the same in women as they are in men.”