Irregular menstrual cycles may be linked to higher cardiovascular disease risks

The study findings indicate that “it is time” to raise awareness around the importance of monitoring menstrual cycle characteristics throughout a person’s reproductive life. Photo: Pexels

(Jacqueline Howard/ CNN News) — Women with irregular menstrual cycles or cycle lengths may face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

Cycles that are shorter than normal – less than 21 days – and longer-than-normal cycles – at more than 35 days – were associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeats, according to the study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association. A menstrual cycle was measured as the number of days between each menstrual period.

Specifically, “long menstrual cycle length was associated with increased risks of atrial fibrillation but not myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke,” the researchers wrote, and shorter cycles were associated with a greater risk of coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction or heart attack.

Some questions remain.

While “women with menstrual cycle dysfunction may experience adverse cardiovascular health consequences,” the exact nature of that relationship and what’s driving it remains unknown, said senior study author Dr. Huijie Zhang. (…)