Recent data have indicated that menopausal hot flashes may be a determinant for cardiovascular health. Therefore, we studied the impact of hot flashes on insulin resistance, one of the most powerful markers of cardiovascular health, in recently postmenopausal women.
We studied 143 recently postmenopausal (amenorrhea 6-36 mo) healthy and normal-weight women without previous hormone therapy use. The women prospectively recorded the number and severity of hot flashes for 2 weeks, and a validated total symptom score, the hot flash weekly weighted score, was calculated for each woman. Insulin resistance was assessed from fasting blood levels of glucose and insulin with the homeostasis model assessment.
In 12 women, the assessment of insulin (n = 11) or glucose (n = 1) failed, and they were excluded from further analysis. Thus, hot flashes were absent in 19, mild in 32, moderate in 27, and severe in 53 women. The levels of glucose or insulin, or HOMA showed no differences between these groups, nor was insulin resistance related to the number or severity of hot flashes or to the levels of C-reactive protein or sex hormone–binding globulin. Overall, insulin resistance showed a positive association with body mass index (mean difference, 0.058; 95% CI, 0.015-0.102; P = 0.009) and a negative association with level of estradiol (mean difference, −0.002; 95% CI, −0.003 to −0.001; P = 0.009).
Insulin resistance may not be involved in hot flash–related changes in cardiovascular health. However, because of the small sample size, these findings need to be interpreted with caution.