A new study suggests that women with endometriosis, a painful gynecologic disease, may be at higher risk for coronary heart disease. Mayo Clinic reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Gaurang Daftary says the 20-year study of nurses in Massachusetts is the first study to investigate whether these two conditions are related. He says, "The analysis shows the possibility that coronary artery disease later in life may be associated with a history of endometriosis earlier in life. So, it is an intriguing finding."
Dr. Daftary says the study also showed "that hysterectomies in younger women definitely change the overall risk profile and increase the risk of heart disease. Women with endometriosis often end up with a hysterectomy. What women can take away from the study is to be their best advocate to prevent a hysterectomy — especially the removal of ovaries as they are the critical hormone producing organs that should not be lost — even if it means making lifestyle changes."
Many women who experience painful menstrual cramps and pelvic pain may not know they have endometriosis. Dr. Daftary says, "Endometriosis is as common as it can be discovered. The only way in which endometriosis can be found is for a doctor to surgically look for it and diagnosis it. Every single person cannot have surgery done so we don't have the actual number of patients but the average is 1 out of ten women, especially 1 out of 10 in the younger age group, could have endometriosis."
Dr. Daftary says of the overall study, "This is an interesting question. It's an interesting study. But this is not the definitive study that says it will definitely happen to them. The message I don't want young women to take away is that they are suddenly doomed to have coronary artery disease."