Women who have a hysterectomy with or without removal of the ovaries in mid-life do not appear to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers found.

Changes in various cardiovascular risk factors over time were largely similar when comparing women going through natural menopause and those undergoing hysterectomy with or without oophorectomy, according to Karen Matthews, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues.

There were some significant differences between the groups, but they could have been due to chance because of the large number of comparisons made, the researchers reported online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"The bottom line is that women who choose to have elective hysterectomy in mid-life don't seem to have an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease," Matthews said in an interview.

Results from some other studies, including the Women's Health Initiative, have suggested that hysterectomy may increase cardiovascular risk, although the relationship is not consistent in the literature. Matthews noted that previous studies exploring the issue have mostly included older women and less frequent follow-up compared with the current study.

"I think what we're doing is writing a new chapter on this important question of whether or not a hysterectomy has a negative or a positive effect on cardiovascular risk," she said.

Matthews and her colleagues examined data from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which enrolled premenopausal women ages 42 to 52 who were not taking hormone therapy and had an intact uterus and at least one ovary at baseline. The participants were followed annually for up to 11 years.

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