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Early menopause linked to reduced walking speed

19 Jun 2019

Women who have entered menopause before the age of 40 years happen to walk much slower compared with those who have reported later menopause, as reported in a recent study from Canada.

The study used data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging and included 9,920 women who reported to have entered menopause. Age at natural menopause (ANM) was categorized as follows: <40 years (premature), 40–44 years (early), 45–49 years, 50–54 years and >54 years. None of the participants had a hysterectomy before menopause.

Mean ANM was 49.8 years, with 3.8 percent of women reporting premature menopause and 8.7 percent reporting early menopause. Women with earlier ANM were more likely to have lower education, be currently smoking, and be underweight, overweight or obese. Furthermore, use of hormone therapy (HT) was more prevalent in women with earlier ANM.

Researchers measured gait speed using the timed 4-minute walk test and gait strength using a wireless grip dynamometer. Average gait speed of the cohort was 0.98 m/s, while average grip strength was 26.6 kg.

Gait speed was notably lower by a mean of 0.054 m/s among women with premature menopause than among those who had ANM of 50–54 years. On further analysis, the observed difference was attenuated to 0.032 m/s.

Grip strength, on the other hand, was not associated with ANM.

The findings highlight the need to consider women with premature menopause as a clinical priority group for promotion of healthy ageing initiatives (eg, physical activity interventions and nutritional supplementation) that boost physical function, the researchers said.

More studies including early life social and reproductive exposures are needed in order to determine whether social and biological pathways modify the association between ANM and physical function in populations with different socioeconomic backgrounds, they added.

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