Hysterectomy Linked to Cardiovascular Disease

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Hysterectomy Linked to Cardiovascular Disease

Hysterectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures in women; however, research is beginning to show that there is a link with cardiovascular disease.

On December 24, 2010 The European Heart Journal published an article written by Daniel Altman, et al. which declared that hysterectomy in women aged 50 years or younger substantially increases the risk for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) later in life and removal of the ovaries, or oopherectomy, further adds to the risk of both coronary heart disease and stroke. Being that approximately one in three women in the U.S. will undergo hysterectomy at some point in their lives, for reasons ranging from fibroids to chronic pelvic pain, it is important to take these results into consideration when deciding whether hysterectomy is the best solution for treatment

The study followed more than 800,000 women with and without hysterectomies over the course of three decades. After accounting for a number of confounding factors that may have the ability to affect results, the researchers of the study found that a woman who had undergone hysterectomy before the age 50 had a nearly 20 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, compared to a similar woman who still had both her uterus and ovaries intact. Additionally, given the large sample size, the researchers were able to look more in depth at the effect of hysterectomies and concluded that the risk was present regardless of the type of cardiovascular disease observed.

The group of scientists suggested that hormonal changes that take place after the organs are removed might be the primary culprit causing increased risks seen in the study subjects. Research conducted in earlier studies illustrate that the removal of the uterus can disrupt blood flow to the ovaries, which generate estrogen, and may further trigger early menopause and lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Being that hysterectomies have traditionally been considered the method of choice for treating a variety of gynecological disorders because of its ability to completely eradicate disease, the researchers urge the medical community to consider the results of this study when looking into health options. Daniel Altman of the Karolinska Institute and senior researcher of the study states , “I think we’re talking about a procedure that causes a great deal of morbidity, and even mortality” and insists that the data presented can push physicians to explore alternative treatment options when necessary.

SOURCE: European Heart Journal, online December 24, 2010.

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