Hysterectomy and Increased Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Women Under 50

A new Swedish study suggests that women under 50 undergoing hysterectomy with or without removal of the ovaries have an increased risk of heart disease. Previously it was thought that only removal of the ovaries was associated with the increased risk but this study shows that hysterectomy alone has a raised risk of heart disease.mpf 3 girls.jpg

The authors used the nationwide healthcare registers to identify all Swedish women between 1973 and 2003 who had a hysterectomy for benign reasons. They identified 184,441 women and compared with women from the population who had not undergone a hysterectomy.

The authors found that hysterectomy in women under 50 substantially increases the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. Removal of the ovaries has an increased risk for both coronary heart disease and stroke in the under 50 group. The authors believe that removal of the uterus affects the ovarian blood supply, bringing on earlier menopause through premature ovarian failure. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 U.S. and 1 in 5 U.K. women undergo a hysterectomy, with a trend for women to undergo hysterectomy at an earlier age for various gynaecological problems.

No significant associations between hysterectomy and cardio-vascular disease was found in women aged 50 or over at study entry.

The authors urge gynaecologists to discuss this increased risk with women under 50, especially those who already have cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.

Ingelsson E, Lundholm C, Johansson A, Altman D. Hysterectomy and risk of cardiovascular disease: A population based cohort study. Euro Heart J. 2010.