Age at menopause in relationship to lipid changes and subclinical carotid disease across 20 years: Study of women’s health across the nation

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Younger age at final menstrual period (FMP) is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease events. This paper evaluated whether older age at FMP is associated with more favorable patterns of lipid changes during the menopause transition and whether these changes are associated with less subclinical carotid disease in the postmenopausal years. METHODS AND RESULTS: Lipids and lipoproteins were measured repeatedly among 1554 premenopausal women who had a natural menopause during follow-up years (median=18.8 years); a subset of 890 women also had measures of carotid intima media thickness, adventitial diameter, and plaque. Women who had an older FMP age had less adverse changes in cholesterol from 1 to 3 years after FMP, and in triglycerides from FMP to 3 years after FMP, but they had more adverse changes in ApoB and Apo A1 from 3 years before to 1 year after the FMP. Increasing cholesterol and ApoB from 1 to 3 years after FMP were associated with greater intima media thickness and adventitial diameter, and the greater likelihood of a plaque score >2 the older the age at FMP. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the epidemiological literature showing early age at FMP is associated with elevated risk for cardiovascular disease events, older age at FMP had inconsistent associations with less adverse lipid changes in midlife, which did not translate into less risk for subclinical carotid disease and in some cases more risk. These findings are restricted to women who experience FMP in the normative age range for the menopausal transition.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Matthews KA; Chen X; Barinas-Mitchell E; Brooks MM; Derby CA; Harlow S; Jackson EA; Thurston RC; El Khoudary SR
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 18