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December 18, 2019


ThedaCare Provider Explains New Study Linking Age of First Period and Heart Issues

December 18, 2019


ThedaCare Provider Explains New Study Linking Age of First Period and Heart Issues

APPLETON, Wis. – The age at which a young woman begins menstruating, having her period, may be more significant than previously realized. It may impact her risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure later in life.

“This new information we are learning from a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests we should routinely record the age of first menstruation as part of a woman’s health history,” said Simone Fearon, MD, physician leader with ThedaCare Cardiovascular Care. “It should make women who had early or late first periods aware of a possible increased risk for heart issues.”

Dr. Fearon advises that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in women.

“That makes it very important we pay attention to any factors that may contribute to the development of cardiac issues,” she said. “We want to know about any factors that may contribute to a woman’s risk for heart disease.”

The average age for the beginning of menstruation is 12 for young women in the United States. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute study reported, “Girls who had their first period at age 10 or younger had a four-fold higher risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and premature death down the road compared to girls who started menstruating at 12. Those who had their first period at 11, 13, 14 and 15 or older had at least a two-fold increased risk of such major cardiac events.”

According to study, those results were consistently found among lean, over-weight, and obese women, among never, past or current smokers, and among women in lower, middle or higher socioeconomic groups.

Dr. Fearon recommends women who had early or late first periods take this advice from the study:

  • Tell your doctor if you started to menstruate earlier or later than age 12.
  • If you experienced an early or late first period, be vigilant if you experience any heart symptoms, including chest pain, chest discomfort or shortness of breath – three symptoms of reduced blood supply to the heart.
  • Consider taking preventative steps if you know you might be at higher risk for heart problems. Monitor your blood pressure, eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Parents whose daughters started menstruating early or late should tell their pediatricians. It may be important to start monitoring the girl’s blood pressure and other heart factors.

“This study offers another factor women and their doctors should be aware of and consider when making health decisions,” said Dr. Fearon. “Preventative health care, especially for cardiac conditions, is key to longer life and better quality of life.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 18 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.