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Women who developed complications during pregnancy -- including dangerously high blood pressure ("preeclampsia") and gestational diabetes -- were more likely to experience more hot flashes during menopause, the researchers found.
"This study further underscores the importance of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia for later health, particularly cardiovascular health at midlife," said study author Dr. Rhoda Conant, from the University of Oklahoma's Health Science Center.
To investigate this theory, the research team analyzed data on more than 2,200 women who were in a national study. The findings showed that gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy were linked to a greater number of hot flash episodes later in life.
The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) annual meeting, in San Diego.
"Women with a history of these pregnancy disorders were heavier and more likely to be taking lipid [cholesterol]-lowering medications and diabetes medications," Conant explained in a society news release.
According to Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director, "With so many women affected by hot flashes, health care providers need to understand all the underlying risk factors that could influence hot flashes at the time of menopause."
Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
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