Endometriosis and coronary heart disease research study – response from Endometriosis UK

Friday, April 01, 2016

A recently published article on the risk of heart disease in women with endometriosis suggests that endometriosis is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. This epidemiological study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes by a group of researchers from Boston, USA was based on a 20 year follow up of more than 116,000 women included in the Nurses' Health Study II between 1989 and 2009. It showed 50% increase in the risk of myocardial infarction, 90% increase in the risk of angina and 35% increase in the risk of coronary surgery in women with endometriosis compared to those without. The increased risk appeared to be age related and was highest in younger women under the of age 40 years. There was a gradual decline in the increased risk which disappeared after the age 55 years.

The research showed that at least 40% of the increased risk was due to hysterectomy and removal of the ovaries. The researchers were not able to investigate the potential impact of other hormonal treatments such as danazol or gonadotrophin releasing hormones due to lack of data.

The research highlights the potential impact of endometriosis as a condition not just affecting the reproductive health, but as a significant health issue that has implications on the overall health of women. It suggests that women with endometriosis should adopt a healthy life style to reduce their risk of heart disease.

This research shows an association between endometriosis and heart disease, but does not indicate that endometriosis causes heart disease. In addition, data apply to women from North America where the treatment pattern, particularly the approach to hysterectomy and removal of ovaries may be significantly different in other parts of the world. Furthermore, treatment approaches have changed over the years, i.e. much less use of danazol, hence the current level of risk might be different than what was found in this research.

For further information on endometriosis can be found on our information pages