Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Telephone: 412-586-9776
Telephone: 412-864-4151
Patient & Other Inquiries

Early Onset of Hot Flashes Associated with Blood Vessel Dysfunction, Could Predict Heart Disease

Pitt Expert Will Discuss Findings at News Briefing, Presentation at American College of Cardiology Annual Meeting

PITTSBURGH, March 9, 2015 – Women who experience hot flashes early in the course of menopause are more likely to have markers of blood vessel dysfunction, which could indicate a higher risk for the development of heart disease, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh. Findings will be discussed during a news briefing and presentation at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session and Expo, March 14 to 16, in San Diego.
Up to 70 percent of women experience hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, said Rebecca Thurston, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.
“We used to think these were just annoying symptoms that many women just tried to endure,” she said. “However, our research is now suggesting that for some women, hot flashes might indicate adverse changes in the blood vessels during midlife that might not be medically benign over time.”
At the meeting, Dr. Thurston will discuss preliminary findings from her research that indicate early onset of hot flashes is associated with dysfunction of the endothelium, which is the lining of blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction was measured by assessing flow mediated dilation (FMD), a noninvasive ultrasound measure of how well the vessel dilates in response to pressure on the wall of the blood vessel.
In one study of 189 healthy women approaching or in menopause, the researchers found those who had hot flashes before age 52 were more likely to have lower FMD values, suggesting adverse endothelial changes. Similarly, in a second study of 104 postmenopausal women with signs of heart disease, those who reported first having their hot flashes at or before age 42 were more likely to have lower FMD values.
“More work needs to be done to confirm our findings and to understand the reasons why early hot flashes are associated with endothelial dysfunction,” Dr. Thurston said. “But these findings could give us a way to predict who might be at greater risk for heart disease so that we can target these women for early prevention.”

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA