Each year, millions of women contemplating a hysterectomy must weigh the pros and cons of the procedure. Will the removal of their uterus because of cancer, fibroids or heavy, painful periods, provide more benefit than risk? And that's because hysterectomy has long been linked to an increase in a woman's cardiovascular risk factors, including weight gain, and a rise in cholesterol and blood pressure, perhaps more than natural menopause.
"The data from before simply were that if you ask older women if they have or have not had their uterus out, and then look whether they have cardiovascular disease, women who have had their uterus out had an increased risk of having cardiovascular disease in older life, it appeared," said Dr. Friederike Keating, a cardiologist at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.
But a new comprehensive study out of Pittsburgh now says middle aged women who undergo hysterectomy are at no greater risk than if they reach menopause naturally a few years later.
"I think what this study does is it reassures us that this is not something you have to throw into the balance all that much. If you are suffering from fibroids, or there are other reasons to consider having your uterus removed, then you don't have to worry excessively about that increasing your other cardiovascular risk factors. So it's very reassuring," Keating said.
Keating says the decision may be more difficult for younger women because the increase in heart risk would come much sooner than it would naturally. But for those closer to menopause, she says this new study shows a hysterectomy won't hurt them in the long run.
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