Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Do Hot Flashes Protect Women From Heart Disease?

New Study Suggests Hot Flashes May Decrease Some Women’s Risk for Heart Attacks and Stroke
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 24, 2011 -- Hot flashes during menopause may lower some women’s risk for developing heart disease, according to new research published online in the journal Menopause.

“Hot flashes are so, so common around the time of menopause and a lot of previous work has suggested that they increase certain markers of cardiovascular disease risk such as blood pressure or cholesterol levels,” says study researcher Emily Szmuilowicz, MD, an endocrinologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. But “there was no increase in risk seen among women who had hot flashes throughout menopause, and women with hot flashes at the beginning of menopause seemed to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and death.”

During a hot flash or hot flush, blood vessels near the skin's surface dilate to cool, producing a red, flushed look. Women may also start sweating to cool down their body. Exactly how -- or even if -- hot flashes may protect against heart disease is not known.

Women in the new study were divided into four groups including those who did not have hot flashes during menopause, those who had hot flashes only when they entered menopause, those who had hot flashes during early and late menopause, and those who developed hot flashes during the later stages of menopause.

Women whose hot flashes persisted throughout menopause were not at any increased risk for heart disease, stroke, or death, the researchers report. Women who had hot flashes only during early menopause were less likely to develop heart disease, stroke, or die. Those women whose hot flashes came on late in the course of menopause were at an increased risk for heart disease and death from any cause, the new study shows.

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Hot Flashes

Some women in the study were taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and researchers did attempt to take this into account. Past or current use of hormones may affect hot flashes. What’s more, some forms of HRT have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. “We are advising women who are appropriate candidates to use hormone replacement therapy early on and in the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time to alleviate their symptoms, but not for cardiovascular protection,” Szmuilowicz says.

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections