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3 times higher risk of heart disease for young women with endometriosis

(photo: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr)

A new study suggests that young women suffering from endometriosis, a chronic and painful condition where tissue normally lining the uterus grows outside of it, are at higher risk of heart disease.

For the large-scale study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital followed 120,000 women over 20 years, 12,000 of whom had endometriosis. They found that while the general rate of heart disease for women under 40 was 21 cases per 100,000, for women with endometriosis in that same age group, the heart disease rate increased to 65 cases. Compared to women without the condition, the group with endometriosis had three times the risk for developing heart attacks and chest pain, and needing treatment for blocked arteries.

“We don’t think that it’s a coincidence,” said Dr. Stacey Missmer, co-author of the study. “We know that women with endometriosis have systemic inflammation, they have a poor oxidative stress profile, they also may have a difference in their lipid profile and their cholesterol levels, for example, all of which can increase their risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Endometriosis affects at least 10 percent of women of reproductive age and can lead to infertility or the afflicted being unable to partake in daily activities because of excruciating pain. Nevertheless, the disease remains diffficult to diagnose. The symptoms are often mistaken for regular menstrual cramps, and a surgical diagnosis is necessary to determine whether a woman actually has the condition. “What girls and women can do both for endometriosis and for cardiovascular disease is listen to their bodies.” Missmer told NBC News. “If you are feeling that you are in pain or discomfort beyond what seems normal to you, you should discuss that with your medical practitioner — women shouldn’t feel that pelvic pain and menstrual cramping is always normal.”

Read the full story at NBC News.

Photo via Flickr

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