The findings, published in the journal Hypertension Research, showed that the age of menarche, which is a female's first period, was linked with the risk of high blood pressure. (Shutterstock/File)
New US research has found that the age a woman starts her periods might be linked to her risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) later in life.
Led by researchers at the University of Georgia, the new study looked at data on 7,893 Chinese women age 45 and over taken from the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study, which included information about biological, demographic and lifestyle factors that may contribute to high blood pressure.
The findings, published in the journal Hypertension Research, showed that the age of menarche, which is a female's first period, was linked with the risk of high blood pressure.
More specifically, an early onset of menarche by one year was found to significantly increase the risk of hypertension later in adulthood, by six percent, even after the researchers had taken into account other potentially influencing factors including age, education, marital status, body mass index (BMI), smoking, drinking, and medication
However, there was no significant relationship between age of menopause and blood pressure after adjusting the findings for these other lifestyle factors.
Previous studies in the area have so far provided inconsistent results, with study author Luqi Shen explaining that "Some studies suggested that early menarche increased the risk of hypertension in late adulthood, while other studies indicated that late onset of menarche was associated with hypertension in late adulthood."
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Shen went on to suggest that the rate our body develops earlier in life could influence longer term health; when one system develops early or too late then this can also affect other systems in the body.
"Women with early menarche may have less than optimal developed cardiovascular system, therefore, had higher risk for adverse outcomes, such as hypertension in late adulthood," said Shen. "So, the association of early menarche with hypertension is as expected in this population."
However, the effect can be modified by environmental factors, for example a healthy lifestyle.
"Interestingly, this association is entirely explained by body mass index," said Shen. "This suggests that body weight management around menopausal stage is critical in blood pressure management for women at menopausal age, and we believe this finding is not specific to Chinese women and may be applicable to women in all countries."
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