Women with heart disease are more likely to have severe symptoms and possibly a heart attack at the beginning of their monthly menstrual cycle, according to new research from England.
Angina is a heavy, squeezing chest pain which occurs when there is insufficient oxygen supply to the heart. It is more common in patients with a history of heart disease. Researchers from the Cardiothoracic Centre report in the journal Heart, studied a phenomenon where angina is more likely to be suffered in the week during or immediately after the period.
The research shows light to understanding the key role that female sex hormones play in a wide range of functions. Research has already shown that the time of the month can profoundly affect the symptoms of migraine, asthma and cardiac arrhythmia.The early follicular phase - the week during or immediately after a period-produced the worst exercise performance and the quickest time to angina pain: 290 seconds. This phase is when levels of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone are lowest. The best performance and slowest time to angina pain, of 418 seconds, occurred in mid-cycle, when oestrogen concentrations peak.
Oestrogen is a vasodilator - it relaxes blood vessels and allows blood to flow more freely. Because of this, oestrogen has been iplaying a vital role in reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Indeed, it is thought that heart disease is rare before menopause, partly owing to the protective effects of oestrogen in the blood.