Venlafaxine, an anti-depressant relieves hot flushes in more than half of menopausal women, according to researchers at Glasgow University.
During the study researchers compared the peripheral blood vessels in the arms of women who experience hot flushes with those who do not. They found that menopausal women suffered hot flushes due to abnormalities in the function of blood vessels and venlafaxine improved flushing in over 60% of patients. Researchers also found that patients who are prone to hot flushes have more risk factors for heart disease.
The charity 'Wellbeing of Women', which funded the study, hopes these findings could lead to new treatment options for hot flushes, offering an alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Researcher Prof Lumsden said, "My team and I have found that the blood vessels of women who get hot flushes dilate much more easily than those that don't, and that they became less 'reactive' when a drug such as serotonin is prescribed. What's fascinating is that it appears to be the blood vessels themselves rather than what goes on in the brain that actually causes hot flushes.
However, venlafaxine comes with significant withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, low mood, insomnia and nausea.