Menopause and accelerated aortic stiffness

Sheila M. O'Neill*, Catherine M. Travers, Petr Otahal, Soo Keat Khoo, James E. Sharman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: The menopausal transition is widely believed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, based on the notion that estrogen is cardioprotective in women. While aortic stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease, it has been unclear whether this risk increases during menopause. Objective: This study aimed to determine the association between changes in menopausal status and aortic stiffness. Main outcome measures: Menopausal status was classified using the Stages of Reproductive Aging in Women criteria in a stratified random sample of Australian women aged 40–80 years, at three time-points over 14 years (n = 469 in 2001–02 and 2005, and n = 323 in 2014). Aortic stiffness was measured non-invasively via carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity at each time point. Mixed modeling was employed to determine the independent associations between menopausal status and aortic stiffness accounting for multiple covariates including age, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, medications, cholesterol, waist circumference, smoking and diabetes status. Results: There was no evidence to support an association between the menopausal transition and an acceleration of aortic stiffness. However, there was an acceleration of aortic stiffness in the late (8+ years) postmenopause phase, after accounting for age and traditional cardiovascular risk factors (0.122 [95%CI: 0.106, 0.139] m/s/year; p < 0.001). Conclusions: The menopausal transition is not associated with major changes in aortic stiffness beyond normal age-related effects. However, the clinically significant acceleration in aortic stiffness observed in late postmenopause may contribute to greater cardiovascular risk in this later life phase. Study registered in the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, reference ACTRN12618000005257.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number107900
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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