Night Sweats and Heart Disease

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The link between night sweats and heart disease

This podcast is about an article found in OBGYN news relating night sweats and heart disease. In hormone therapy, women who take estrogen typically don’t experience flushing, hot flashes or night sweats. The major difference between these are that with flushing a person generally experiences a red feeling, like after you’ve been running, that occurs on the face and neck. This happens when blood flow is concentrated at the surface of the skin. The skin may feel hotter, but the body’s core temperature remains normal. Night sweats occur at night, and leave the person sweaty, wanting to shed clothing. Finally hot flashes have similar characteristics as flushing and night sweats. The main difference is that although there is a total body feeling of increased temperature, there is no sweating associated it.

All of these conditions are a result of an increase in the FSH, a follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone surges in menopausal women and often is accompanied by anxiety attacks.

A study was done in the Netherlands that took a group of women, and over a 20 year period, studied to see if there was a link between night sweats and coronary disease. What they found was that the daytime hot flashes were not related to a higher risk of heart disease but the night sweats were. They compared these results with women who did not have these symptoms because they had a naturally higher level of estrogen or they were taking estrogen. Their conclusion was that women with untreated night sweats are at risk for coronary disease.

The believed correlation between these two is that when you’re sleeping and there’s a spike in your FSH hormone, causing a night sweat, the adrenal system is alerted and your body starts producing the chemicals needed to make an emergency response. But because you’re asleep and there isn’t an emergency, your body temperature changes and you break into a sweat to try and cool your body down. Your heart is stressed because it is beating faster. Overtime this leads to coronary complications and many times, death.

The take home message here is that if a woman has a family history of heart disease, it is important to replace her estrogen to assist in the curing of night sweats.

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