It’s that time. . .for heart attacks?

From New Orleans, at a meeting of the American Heart Association

A small but provocative study suggests that a woman is more vulnerable to heart attacks during the time in her menstrual cycle when estrogen concentrations are lowest.

Among 28 women who had a heart attack at an unusually young age—from 35 to 47 years—20 suffered the attack within 5 days after the beginning of their periods, reports Bettina Hamelin of Laval University in Quebec. All 28 women had other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

“Everything fits together” to suggest that the menstrual cycle helps trigger heart attacks among women with other risk factors, says Norman Chan of University College London. Chan says he has unpublished data suggesting that a woman’s blood vessels are stiffest when estrogen concentrations are low.

“You can’t do much about your menstrual cycle, but you can change your risk factors,” Hamelin says. “The message, if you are a menstruating female and have risk factors for heart disease, is one of awareness.” She points out that women suffering heart attacks have symptoms, such as back pain, that can be mistaken for menstruation-related discomfort.

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