A warning for women with endometriosis

Women who have endometriosis, the abnormal growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus, may face a 60 percent higher risk of developing heart disease than women without the disorder, a new study suggests. The potential risk was especially high for women who were 40 or younger.

The study, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, looked at more than 116,000 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II. The researchers found nearly 12,000 women who received a diagnosis of endometriosis during the 20-year follow-up, which ended in 2009. They discovered that women with endometriosis were 1.35 times as likely to need surgery or stents to unblock arteries. These patients were also 1.52 times as apt to have a heart attack, and 1.91 times as likely to have chest pain, or angina.

Younger women had an even higher risk of heart disease, the researchers found. Those 40 and younger with endometriosis were three times as likely to have a heart attack, need surgery for a blocked artery or have chest pain (angina) compared with those of the same ages without endometriosis.

That finding could be partly explained by the endometriosis treatments themselves. These treatments, such as removal of the uterus and ovaries, have been linked in other studies to potential heart-disease risk, the study authors said.

“Women with endometriosis should be thinking about lifestyle changes and discussion with their doctor about steps they can take to prevent heart disease,” said Stacey Missmer, the study’s senior author and director of epidemiologic research in reproductive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

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