Women who have relatively shorter menstrual cycles or cycle lengths are more prone to cardiovascular disease, a study finds.

Women with menstrual cycles that are shorter than the average length of 21 days, and cycles that are longer than the average length of 35 days are more susceptible to atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeats, as per a study published in the Journal of The American Heart Association.

Heart disease risk factors such as insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, and polycystic ovarian syndrome have been linked to irregular menstrual cycles. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle are thought to play a role in elevating the risk of developing arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, according to Heart.Org.

Menstrual cycles of varying lengths had distinct implications, the current study noted.

"Long menstrual cycle length was associated with increased risks of atrial fibrillation but not myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke," the researchers wrote, and shorter cycles were linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction or heart attack.

"Women with menstrual cycle dysfunction may experience adverse cardiovascular health consequences," senior study author Dr. Huijie Zhang, chief physician and professor at Nanfang Hospital of Southern Medical University in China, told CNN.

Zhang stated the study served as a hint that it was time to raise awareness about the significance of irregular menstrual cycles throughout a person's reproductive years.

The total estimated global percentage of women having irregular menstrual cycles was approximately 14% to 25%, according to the US National Institutes of Health.

Researchers analyzed the health data of 58,056 women in the U.K., and found women with regular menstrual cycles had a cardiovascular disease development rate of 2.5%, whereas those with irregular cycles or no periods had a higher rate of 3.4%.

The study also found that among women with regular menstrual cycles, 0.56% developed atrial fibrillation, 1.3% developed coronary heart disease, and 0.29% had heart attacks. In contrast to that, for women with irregular cycles, the rates were higher at 0.92% for atrial fibrillation, 1.7% for coronary heart disease, and 0.45% for heart attacks.

More research is needed to learn further about how the length and regularity of a menstrual cycle can affect heart health, Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a renowned cardiologist and the medical director of Atria New York City and clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, told CNN. Goldberg wasn't involved in the study.

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