The age at which a woman begins menstruation affects her chances of having high blood pressure later in life, a new study by University of Georgia researchers has found.
Researchers found that girls who began menstruation early faced a significant increase in the likelihood of having hypertension as an adult. The link remained even when controlling for independent social economic factors, lifestyle behaviors, and other metabolic measures.
"Some studies suggested that early menarche increased the risk of hypertension in late adulthood, while other studies indicated that late onset of menarche was associated with hypertension in late adulthood," said Luqi Shen, a doctoral student at UGA's College of Public Health and study author.
Menarche is when menstruation first begins. The average age for menarche is 12½.
The study, published in the journal Hypertension Research, analyzed survey data of 7,893 Chinese women from the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. The survey included information about biological, demographic and lifestyle factors that may contribute to high blood pressure.
Shen says the link may be explained by the rate our body systems develop, according to UGA Today. When one system develops early or experiences a delay that can have an impact on other body systems.
“Women with early menarche may have less than optimal developed cardiovascular system, therefore, had higher risk for adverse outcomes, such as hypertension in late adulthood,” Shen said. “So, the association of early menarche with hypertension is as expected in this population.”
Shen also said the biological mechanisms underlying the association of early menarche and hypertension could be alleviated by healthy living and good health care.
Shen’s co-authors were Li Wang with Shanghai Baoshan Luo Dian Hospital; Ying Hu with West China Second Hospital; Tingting Liu with the University of Arkansas; Jinzhen Guo with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; and Ye Shen, Ruiyuan Zhang, Toni Miles and Changwei Li with the University of Georgia College of Public Health.
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