Young women who go through menopause early may face a significantly greater risk of having a brain aneurysm later in life, new research shows.
The study, published the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, found the younger a woman is when she goes through the menopause, the greater may be her risk of having a cerebral aneurysm – an abnormal bulging of an artery in the brain than can cause potentially fatal or disabling bleed.
Women are more prone to cerebral aneurysms than men. Researchers noted fluctuations in the female hormone estrogen have been linked to aneurysms, which are more common after menopause.
"Loss of estrogen earlier in a woman's life may contribute to the [development] of cerebral aneurysm," said the researchers. "These data may identify a risk factor for [the development of this condition] and also a potential target for future therapies."
The findings are based on a study of health records of 76 postmenopausal women who had had a cerebral aneurysm. The records were then compared to those of more than 4,500 women tracked as part of the 2002 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences Study.
Analysis of the health records of women in both groups found later menopause and use of hormone replacement therapy reduced the risk of a cerebral aneurysm, by 21 percent and 77 percent, respectively.
Premature menopause - before the age of 40 - occurred in one in four of the women who had had an aneurysm, compared with one in five of those in the comparison group. And each successive four-year increase in the age at which a woman went through the menopause lessened the likelihood of an aneurysm by 21 percent.