Friday, March 19, 2010

Hot Flashes and Your Heart Health

If you’re in the midst of your journey through menopause, chances are good that you’ve already begun to struggle with hot flashes—brief episodes that can range from mild flushing and dampness to a severe, nauseating soak. Many women will experience hot flashes of varying degrees during such a seismic hormonal shift.

The good news, according to one recent study, is that these episodes might have more to do with your lifestyle than you think, and a few simple changes may be able to reduce their impact on your daily life significantly. The bad news: Another recent study shows that your hot flashes might not be as harmless as you think.

In the first of these two studies, researchers followed 1659 women between the ages of 47 and 59 for four years—measuring hormone levels, body fat, and hot flash frequency each year. Over this time period, 53 percent of the women showed an increase in body fat, while the remainder remained stable or lost fat. After accounting for hormone levels, results at the end of the study showed that those women who gained body fat were 1.23 times more likely to experience regular hot flashes than those who did not.

While it’s not clear what the cause of this correlation is, researchers believe that it may be because excess body fat makes it difficult for your body to process heat. But another recent study shows that hot flashes may in fact be a sign of something much more worrisome.

In the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), researchers studied women between 42 and 58, none of whom were known to have heart disease. Results showed, however, that those subjects with hot flashes were also more likely to have thickened carotid arteries (a major blood vessel in your neck). Earlier findings among the same group of women also showed that hot flashes may also be linked to cholesterol plaques in the carotid artery, which can rupture and lead to a stroke. This is also a strong indication of plaque in the coronary artery, which is a leading cause of heart attack.

Once again, researchers are unsure of the reason for this connection—and it’s important to note that these findings don’t mean that hot flashes actually cause heart disease. They do, however, confirm a link—making for one more reason to be vigilant about your heart health during and after menopause, especially if you’ve gained weight or are experiencing regular hot flashes. Heart disease is now the leading cause of death among women according to the most recent statistics, so tackling the problem at the first sign of trouble is critical.

As the first study suggests, reducing your hot flashes could be as simple as maintaining your weight by getting more exercise and eating right—both of which are excellent common sense strategies for cardiovascular health, too. For my patients struggling with cardiovascular or circulatory conditions, I use a clinically proven Tibetan-based herbal formula, called Padma Basic, which embraces the principles of both Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine. I find that patients who use this formula on an ongoing basis enjoy gradual, gentle, and sustained benefits. And compared to any single-agent drug (which may give rapid—but short-lived, and often side effect-ridden—benefits) the advantages of this type of natural, integrative treatment are obvious.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, September 15, 2009


  1. Dr. Eliaz I tried to register to your website forum but have not been approved yet by the moderators. Could you kindly confirm this? Thanks very much.

    I just simply wanted to ask if the Modified Citrus Pectin / MCP / Pectasol can be taken with Beta Glucan. I ask because they both latch onto the cell membrane. I was wondering if it is counterproductive.

  2. Hello! You have been approved for the forums. Regarding your question, PectaSol-C MCP is recommended to be taken two hour apart from other supplements and medication, due to the potential to bind in the gastrointestinal tract, which could disrupt absorption of both the PectaSol-C and the other compounds. PectaSol-C MCP can be taken while taking beta-glucan, but it is best not to take them at the same time due to this binding potential to each other. PectaSol-C is also best absorbed into the circulation if taken on an empty stomach, which is considered 30 minutes before meals and 2 hours after.

  3. This is such a great blog.