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Women who have undergone hysterectomies -one of the most common types of gynecological surgeries – are at greater risk of developing heart disease later in life. While hysterectomies are necessary for some diagnoses – such as uterine cancer – for other gynecological issues, alternative treatments may prove just as effective and safer.
Minnesota’s renowned Mayo Clinic tracked the long-term health of approximately 2,100 women who had undergone hysterectomies, comparing them to another group who had not had the surgery. The hysterectomies were performed over a 22- year period, from 1980 to 2002. All of the women retained their ovaries, and had only the uterus removed. Previous studies indicate the health-preserving effects of retaining ovaries when undergoing a hysterectomy. The women in this study were all in the database of the Rochester Epidemiology Project, “a medical records database that includes the complete inpatient and outpatient records of all medical providers in Olmsted County, Minnesota.” The study took into account prior metabolic or cardiovascular issues prior to the hysterectomy in reaching its conclusions. Only new evidence of disease post-hysterectomy was considered.
The study did not indicate cause and effect, per se, but certain associations were revealed. Women who had undergone hysterectomies had a 13 percent higher risk of developing high blood pressure; a 33 percent higher rate of heart disease and an 18 percent greater risk of becoming obese. Such women also had a 14 percent increase in their rate of high blood fat levels.
It also appears that risks were greatest for women who had hysterectomies at a relatively young age. For those undergoing the procedure at age 35 or younger, the risk of developing congestive heart failure – which eventually proves fatal without a transplant- rose more than four times. Coronary artery disease, resulting from plaque build-up, occurred more than twice as often in these younger patients.
This is not the first study linking hysterectomy and the development of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading killer of women over 50.
The most common reasons for hysterectomy include:
Alternatives to hysterectomy for some of these conditions include hormonal treatment for endometriosis, as well as endometrial ablation. Uterine fibroids, or benign tumors, may respond to embolization.
Some doctors have taken issue with the Mayo Clinic study, noting that it was not a random, experimentalized trial, the gold standard for such research. However, most gynecologists agree that hysterectomy should remain a last resort rather than the initial option for treating common conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis. When some women in the study had their hysterectomies, the alternative, minimally invasive methods of today for treating such conditions were not necessarily available. Today’s women have more alternative treatments, and should discuss these options with their doctor.
If you or a loved one has undergone surgery and experienced serious complications, you need the services of an experienced South Jersey medical malpractice lawyer. Call Folkman Law Offices, P.C. at 856-354-9444 to arrange a free case review at our Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia, or King of Prussia, Pennsylvania offices or contact us online. Our qualified legal team will review your case to determine if medical malpractice played a role in your health outcome.