Smoking raises the risk even more, the study noted.

The study involved 22,000 postmenopausal women in Sweden.

Women who went through menopause naturally at this early age had a rate of heart failure some 40 percent higher than women who went through menopause at the usual age between 50 and 54, the average age being 51.

And for every one-year increase in age at menopause, the rate of heart failure was 2 percent lower, the study revealed.

What is more, women who smoked, even if they had quit earlier, had a higher risk of heart failure if they went through menopause only somewhat early - at ages 46 to 49.

Smokers are known to go through menopause an average of one year earlier than nonsmokers.

"Menopause, early or late, is always a good time to take more steps to reduce heart disease risk through exercise, a healthy diet, weight loss, and quitting smoking,” said Margery Gass, executive director, The North American Menopause Society.

The study appeared in the journal Menopause.


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