A shorter reproductive lifespan – the time between menarche and menopause – can be associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
An analysis published in JAMA Cardiology summarized data from 12 studies that included 307,855 women who were healthy through menopause. They found that a woman with a life span of less than 30 years had a 71 percent higher relative risk of postmenopausal coronary artery disease, heart attack, or stroke compared to an average reproductive life span of 36 to 38 years.
The risk decreased linearly with increasing duration of the reproductive period. With a time lapse of 45 years or more, the risk of a cardiovascular event was 39 percent lower than that of a woman with an average length of time.
Women with a short reproductive lifespan and menarche 11 years of age or younger had the highest risk of all.
Senior author, Gita D. Mishra, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, said that this is a link that does not prove a cause and that the absolute increase in risk is definitely small.
Still, she added, “This information can be helpful and something women can respond to, especially if they are at risk for cardiovascular disease for other reasons. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically fit, monitoring glucose and blood pressure – these are things that are known to reduce risk. "