Stöckl, Doris; Peters, Annette; Thorand, Barbara; Heier, Margit; Koenig, Wolfgang; Seissler, Jochen; Thiery, Joachim; Rathmann, Wolfgang; Meisinger, Christa: Reproductive factors, intima media thickness and carotid plaques in a cross-sectional study of postmenopausal women enrolled in the population-based KORA F4 study. In: BMC Womens Health 2014, 14:17




Background: Reproductive events may affect the onset of chronic diseases. We examined the possible association between reproductive parameters and intima media thickness (IMT) or carotid plaques in the common carotid artery in a population-based sample. Methods: This cross-sectional study analysed data of 800 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 81 years of the population-based KORA F4 study, conducted between 2006 and 2008 in Southern Germany. Reproductive parameters were obtained by standardised interviews. Results: Age at menarche below 12 years compared to 12-15 years was significantly associated with carotid plaques (age-adjusted OR 2.23, 95% CI 1.13-4.43, p-value 0.018, multivariable adjusted 2.11, 1.05-4.26, 0.037), but not with IMT. Ever use of hormone replacement therapy was inversely associated with carotid plaques (age-adjusted 0.60, 0.44-0.81, p = 0.001, multivariable-adjusted 0.62, 0.45-0.86, 0.003) and IMT in the age-adjusted model (mean 0.89, 95% CI 0.88-0.90, p = 0.033) but not in the multivariable-adjusted model (mean 0.89, 95% CI 0.88-0.90, p = 0.075). Parity, age at menopause, time since menopause, duration of fertile period, current use of hormone replacement therapy, ever use of oral contraceptives, hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, hot flashes and depressive mood in relation to the menopausal transition were not associated with carotid plaques or IMT. Conclusion: Our study showed, that there may be an independent association between the reproductive parameters age at menarche and ever use of hormone replacement therapy with carotid plaques in the common carotid artery, but not with IMT. Further research, especially in studies with prospective population-based study design, is necessary to assess in detail what events in women's life lead to increased IMT or CP.