Study: Hysterectomy alone linked to long-term health issues

Hysterectomy without ovary removal may play a role in the future development of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic conditions, according to a study published in the journal Menopause.  

For the study, researchers analyzed data compiled for the Rochester Epidemiology Project on 2,094 women who underwent hysterectomy with ovarian conservation for benign disease between Jan. 1, 1980, and Dec. 31, 2002, in Olmsted County, Minn. Researchers paired these records with information on age-matched women living in the same county who did not undergo the procedure. The women were followed for an average of 21.9 years.

Analysis revealed women who had a hysterectomy experienced a 14 percent increased risk of developing lipid abnormalities, a 13 percent increased risk for high blood pressure, 18 percent increased risk of obesity and a 33 percent increased risk of coronary artery disease. Additionally, women under the age of 35 who had the surgery experienced 4.6-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure and a 2.5-fold increased risk of coronary artery disease over the course of the follow-up period.

"Hysterectomy is the second most common gynecologic surgery, and most are done for benign reasons, because most physicians believe that this surgery has minimal long-term risks," said Shannon Laughlin-Tommaso, MD, an OB-GYN at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and one of the study's authors. "With the results of this study, we encourage people to consider nonsurgical alternative therapies for fibroids, endometriosis and prolapse, which are leading causes of hysterectomy."

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