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Young women with heart disease at risk of 'menstrual angina'

Does angina vary with the menstrual cycle in women with premenopausal coronary artery heart disease?

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Young women with heart disease seem to be at risk of "menstrual angina," reports a study in Heart. In other words the severity of symptoms depends on the stage of their menstrual cycle.

Nine women with arterial disease and symptoms of angina were included in the study. Their average age was 38; four of them had already suffered a heart attack, and one had undergone bypass surgery. The women took an exercise treadmill test at the same time of day each week for four consecutive weeks, during which the time to angina pain was measured. Blood samples to measure hormone levels were also taken.

The early follicular phase-the week during or immediately after a period-produced the worst exercise performance and the quickest time to angina pain: 290 seconds. This phase is when levels of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone are lowest. The best performance and slowest time to angina pain, of 418 seconds, occurred in mid-cycle, when oestrogen concentrations peak.

Sex hormones seem to act as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow through the arteries, say the authors. These hormones can also affect perception of pain as well as mood. Previous research shows the severity of several conditions, such as migraine and asthma, varies throughout the menstrual cycle.


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Contact: Emma Wilkinson
ewilkinson@bma.org
44-207-383-6529
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25-Jul-2000


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