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No Link Between Hysterectomies and Increased Risk for Heart Disease

Update Date: May 14, 2013 03:41 PM EDT

Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the female's uterus. This procedure can be done with or without the removal of the ovaries depending on the patient's desires. Most women choose to have hysterectomies to prevent unwanted pregnancies while others are forced to due to their risk of cancer. Although the procedure is commonly done, previous research discovered that hysterectomies might increase a woman's risk for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in American women. However, according to a new long-term research study, hysterectomies might actually not affect a woman's risk for heart disease.

In this new study, researchers looked at the data of 3,302 premenopausal women who were already enrolled in a study called Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were all between the ages of 42 and 52-years-old and were followed for 11 years. The researchers compared all of the women's risks for cardiovascular disease after experiencing natural menopause, a hysterectomy that did not remove the ovaries and a hysterectomy that removed ovaries. The researchers found that there were no increased risks for heart disease in the women of the two latter groups.

Since these findings countered previous understanding of potential risk factors and side effects of hysterectomies, the researchers decided to look and compare previous studies to their own. They theorized that since this study focused primarily on older women, their risks for cardiovascular disease could have been voided due to their age. Previous research that found an increased risk for cardiovascular disease had young female participants.

"Middle-aged women who are considering hysterectomy should be encouraged because our results suggest that increased levels of cardiovascular risk factors are not any more likely after hysterectomy relative to after natural menopause," said Karen A. Matthews, PhD. Matthews was the lead author of the study and is a distinguished professor of psychiatry and professor of epidemiology and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.

The study was published in journal, American College of Cardiology

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