Objective: Cardiovascular disease is the first cause of mortality in women in North America. The risk of cardiovascular disease increases sharply after middle age in women, especially after menopause. The aim was to investigate changes in body composition and cardiometabolic profile throughout the menopausal transition.
Methods: This was a 5-year observational, longitudinal study on the menopausal transition. The study included 102 premenopausal women at baseline (age, 49.9 ± 1.9 y; body mass index, 23.3 ± 2.2 kg/m2). Outcome measures include menopause status, body composition by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (total fat mass [FM], trunk FM, and total fat-free mass), waist circumference, visceral and abdominal subcutaneous fat, fasting glucose and insulin levels, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, plasma lipid levels (triglycerides, total cholesterol, and high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), and resting blood pressure.
Results: Repeated-measure analyses revealed significant increases for FM, percentage FM, trunk FM, visceral fat, plasma fasting glucose, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (0.05 > P < 0.01) and a significant decrease for plasma glucose levels after follow-up. Those who were in perimenopause or postmenopause by year 3 of the study showed a significant increase in visceral fat (P < 0.01) compared with baseline. Despite some significant changes in the metabolic profile among the menopause statuses, the women did not show any cardiometabolic deterioration by the end of the study.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that changes in body composition and fat distribution can occur in nonobese women as they go through the menopausal transition. However, these changes were not accompanied by cardiometabolic deteriorations in the present study.