The risk of heart disease in young women increases with the presence of endometriosis, new research shows.

The study examined the link between the presence of endometriosis and the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). Researchers found that women diagnosed with endometriosis, an abnormal growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus, have an increased risk of developing heart disease.

For their contribution to the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, researchers examined medical records of about 116,430 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study II. Endometriosis was noted to be present in 11,903 women.

A followup of the study participants after 20 years revealed that women with endometriosis were twice as much at risk for cardiac stenting or surgery, heart attack, and angina.

Surprisingly, patients who are younger, aged 40 years and below, are three times as likely to complain of chest pain, develop heart attack, or require surgical intervention for heart blockage when compared to women without endometriosis.

"Women with endometriosis should be aware that they may be at higher risk for heart disease compared to women without endometriosis, and this increased risk may be highest when they are young," study lead author Fan Mu said.

The study authors surmised that surgical removal of endometriosis may be the cause of the increased risk for cardiac disease, as menopause is not allowed to occur naturally. Previous studies have reported a link between heart disease and endometriosis treatments.

Dr. Tamer Seckin, an endometriosis surgeon and gynecologist, is not surprised about the study results, as the statistical correlation is an important link between CHD and endometriosis.

Seckin, who also co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America, shared that he is planning to screen and work out his patients for coronary disease risk. He is also advocating conservative endometriosis surgery by only removing the lesion and not the entire uterus or ovaries.

A reproductive endocrinologist from Mayo Clinic, Dr. Gaurang Daftary said that the study will not affect how he manages his patients with the disease. He contends that the study used old data rather than following up women who were recently diagnosed with endometriosis. He acknowledges the result that there is a possible connection between CHD and endometriosis but he feels that the study is incomplete as it does not strongly state the endometriosis treatment that can impact disease risk.

Although the study included an evaluation of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and oral contraceptives, other forms of hormonal treatment were not included.

Experts cannot say how much of the population has endometriosis as diagnosis can only be made surgically, but they estimate that it is present in about 6 percent to 10 percent of women of reproductive age, stating that most of cramps and pelvic pain in women are due to endometriosis.

Senior study author Stacey Missmer advises women to practice a healthy lifestyle by having regular screening by their doctors. She also advises women to be more familiar with cardiac disease and its symptoms.

"Heart disease remains the primary cause of death in women," Missmer said.

Women are advised to exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day), maintain a healthy weight to help reduce risk for chronic inflammation such as endometriosis, and adopt a healthy diet by eating low-carb and low-sugar diets.

Endometriosis is an estrogen-related, chronic gynecological disease that affects as much as 10 percent of reproductive age women in the United States. The gynecological disease has been previously associated with numerous illnesses, such as atherogenic lipid profile, oxidative stress, and systemic chronic inflammation.

Experts warn patients with endometriosis to never resort to herbal womb detox to cure their disease as they would only increase their risk of developing inflammation and toxic shock syndrome.

Photo: Richie Graham | Flickr

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