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Menopausal hot flashes linked to high risk of hip fractures

Posted:  Friday, December 26, 2014

Women experiencing menopausal symptoms like moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats may have lower bone mineral density (BMD) and increased risk of hip fracture compared to those not experiencing these symptoms.

These were the findings of a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The prospective cohort study examined data from 23,573 participants in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Clinical Trial.

The participants were women aged between 50 and 79 years. The study was conducted at 40 clinical centres across the country wherein it tracked the women's annual visits for an average of 8 years. The participants were asked about their menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats in their initial visit.

They were then monitored for fractures during the follow-up period. Among the participants, 4,867 women had their BMD measured as part of a sub-study. After adjusting for age, body mass index and demographic factors, the researchers found that those experiencing moderate to severe menopausal symptoms had lower BMD at the neck and spine region during the follow-up period than women with no symptoms.

"Our findings suggest women who exhibit moderate or severe menopausal symptoms are more likely to have issues with bone health than their peers," said the researchers. About 60% of post-menopausal women experience hot flashes lasting for several years. Post-menopausal women face a greater risk of developing osteoporosis since the osteoclast activity is higher than that seen in either younger women or men.

Improved understanding of connection between symptoms of menopause and bone health is needed. Adoption of good lifestyle habits such as cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption, exercise, maintenance of a good calcium and vitamin D status could offer protection against osteoporosis and other bone conditions in women experiencing hot flashes.

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