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    Endometriosis Linked to Heart Disease in Study

    Gynecological condition may boost heart risk 60 percent; even more in young women, research suggests

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Kathleen Doheny

    HealthDay Reporter

    TUESDAY, March 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have endometriosis, the abnormal growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus, may face a 60 percent higher risk of developing heart disease than women without the disorder, a new study suggests.

    The potential risk was especially high for women who were 40 or younger: they were three times more likely to have heart disease than women in the same age range without the gynecological condition, the researchers found.

    That finding could be partly explained by the endometriosis treatments themselves. These treatments, such as removal of the uterus and ovaries, have been linked in other studies to potential heart disease risk, the study authors said.

    "Women with endometriosis should be thinking about lifestyle changes and discussion with their doctor about steps they can take to prevent heart disease," said Stacey Missmer, the study's senior author. Missmer is director of epidemiologic research in reproductive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

    Missmer said the study found an association between endometriosis and the risk of heart disease, but can't prove a cause-and-effect relationship. She believes this is the first study to follow people over time, noting, "I would argue that no first study is clear evidence of cause and effect."

    However, other studies support the link between endometriosis and heart issues, she said.

    "We knew that women with endometriosis have a chronic inflammation. There was one study previously that suggests women with endometriosis have a poor lipid profile -- high 'bad' cholesterol and low 'good' cholesterol," Missmer said. These patients also have high levels of oxidative stress. All of those conditions are tied to heart disease risk, she said.

    Endometriosis affects about 10 percent of women of reproductive age in the United States, according to background information in the study. Symptoms include pelvic pain and painful periods. The condition is known to reduce fertility.

    The study, published online March 29 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, looked at more than 116,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II. The researchers found nearly 12,000 women who received a diagnosis of endometriosis during the 20-year follow-up, which ended in 2009.

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