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Age at Menopause and Risk of Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Stroke

Sabrina J G C Welten  1   2 , N Charlotte Onland-Moret  1 , Jolanda M A Boer  3 , W M Monique Verschuren, et al.

Stroke. 2021 Jun 3;STROKEAHA120030558.doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.030558. Online ahead of print.

Background and purpose: The few epidemiological studies that addressed the association between age at menopause and ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke risk in women had conflicting findings. We aimed to investigate whether age at (natural and surgical) menopause is a risk factor for total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke in women.

Methods: We analyzed data from 16 244 postmenopausal women, aged 26 to 70 years at recruitment who were enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Netherlands cohort between 1993 and 1997. Participants were followed for the occurrence of stroke until January 1, 2011. At baseline, participants filled in questionnaires about health, reproductive history including age at menopause, diet, and lifestyle. Cox regression was used to investigate the association between age at menopause and stroke. All analyses were adjusted for age, smoking, systolic blood pressure, and body mass index.

Results: Mean age of menopause was 46.4 (7.0) years. A total of 830 strokes (571 ischemic, 162 hemorrhagic, 97 unclassified) were identified. Earlier menopause was associated with an increased risk of total stroke. Compared with women who experienced menopause between 50 and 54 years old, women who underwent menopause before age 40 years had 1.48× higher risk (95% CI, 1.19-1.85) of total stroke. In continuous analyses, we observed a 2% lower total stroke risk for each year menopause was delayed (hazard ratio, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.97-0.99]). The risk between earlier menopause and stroke was confined to ischemic stroke, earlier menopause was not associated with hemorrhagic stroke. The association with age at menopause was stronger for natural menopause (hazard ratio <40 versus 50-54 years, 1.74 [95% CI, 1.12-2.70]) than for surgical menopause (hazard ratio <40 versus 50-54 years, 1.26 [95% CI, 0.84-1.89]).

Conclusions: The risk of total and ischemic stroke decreased with an increase in age at menopause. Whether this should have clinical consequences such as intensified risk factor control should be subject of further studies.