Objective: Emerging research suggests links between menopausal hot flashes and cardiovascular risk. The mechanisms underlying these associations are unclear due, in part, to the incomplete understanding of the physiology of hot flashes. We aimed to examine the longitudinal associations between hot flashes/night sweats and both inflammatory and hemostatic markers, controlling for cardiovascular risk factors and estradiol concentrations.
Methods: Participants in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (n = 3,199), a longitudinal cohort study, were aged 42 to 52 years at cohort entry. Women completed interviews (hot flashes, night sweats: none, 1-5, and ≥6 d in the past 2 weeks), physical measures (blood pressure, height, weight), and a blood draw (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, factor VIIc, tissue plasminogen activator antigen [tPA-ag], fibrinogen, glucose, serum estradiol) yearly for 8 years. Hot flashes/night sweats were examined in relation to each inflammatory/hemostatic marker in linear mixed models adjusting for demographic factors, cardiovascular risk factors, and medication use, as well as serum estradiol.
Results: Compared with experiencing no flashes, reporting hot flashes was associated with higher tPA-aglog (hot flashes 1-5 d: percent change, or % change [95% CI], 3.88 [2.22-5.58]; P < 0.0001; ≥6 d: % change [95% CI], 4.11 [1.95-6.32]; P < 0.001) and higher factor VIIclog (hot flashes ≥6 d: % change [95% CI], 2.13 [0.80-3.47]; P < 0.01) in multivariable models. Findings persisted after adjusting for estradiol. Findings for night sweats were similar but attenuated with adjustment.
Conclusions: Frequent hot flashes were associated with higher factor VIIc and tPA-ag. Hemostatic pathways may be relevant to understanding hot flash physiology and links between hot flashes and cardiovascular risk.