As women, our bodies go through various changes throughout our lifetime, and one of those changes can be having irregular periods. While irregular periods may seem like a minor inconvenience or a normal part of life for some, however, there is a link between irregular menstrual cycles and an increased risk of heart disease, which accounts for about 18% of all female deaths in India, is the most prevalent cause of mortality for women, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.
We spoke to our expert Dr Kavya Priya Vazrala, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Infertility Specialist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, who explained the causes of irregular periods and the connection between irregular periods and heart health
Causes Of Irregular Periods
Dr Vazrala said, “Causes of irregular cycles include perimenopause, Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (PMI), eating disorders, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), thyroid dysfunction, hyperprolactinemia, cushing syndrome, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)”.
Also Read: Not Keeping A Track Of Your Periods? Here Are 6 Reasons Why You Should Start It Right Away
Link Between Irregular Periods And Heart Health
Many women with irregular periods have PCOS, which has been linked to metabolic abnormalities that predispose them to Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).
Dr Vazrala explained that PCOS characterised by anovulation, high androgen, and insulin resistance, is a frequent cause of oligomenorrhea (irregular and inconsistent blood flow during menstruation). Women with PCOS have increased rates of diabetes, dyslipidemia and hypertension. Several coronary risk factors have been well described in women with PCOS, including elevated rates of obesity, glucose intolerance and high blood pressure.
Dr Vazrala further added, “Premature menopause is associated with menstrual cycle abnormalities at early ages and is also associated with increased CHD risk. Although oestrogen deficiency related to hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (a medical condition due to a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus) may be anticipated to increase coronary risk, this condition is an infrequent cause of irregular cycles.”
Dr Vazrala concluded by saying, “Women with irregular cycles or no periods have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disorders including Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), myocardial infarction (condition when heart muscles don't get enough oxygen), coronary revascularisation, and stroke depending on the age".
Also Read: Stress To Body Weight: Reasons Why Your Periods Are Late
Health Tips To Manage Irregular Periods
Women with irregular periods must get screened for cardiovascular risk factors and follow healthy lifestyle choices.
Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
Heart health depends on leading a healthy lifestyle. This means staying away from smoking and binge drinking while also getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. It is important to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Stress can contribute to hormonal imbalances and increase the risk of heart disease. Finding ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, or talking to a therapist, can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Get Regular Check-ups
It's essential to get regular check-ups with a healthcare provider to monitor heart health. Women with irregular periods may need additional screening and monitoring for conditions that can contribute to heart disease.
It's essential to understand the potential impact of irregular periods on our heart health and take proactive steps to protect ourselves. If you have an irregular menstrual cycle, do not ignore its symptoms and get yourself tested to monitor your health.