Hot flushes, memory loss linked in midlife women

June 17th, 2008 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 17 (IANS) Hot flushes that women experience in midlife have been linked by a new study to poor “verbal” memory. Failing memory is common in midlife and previous research has indicated that 40 percent of midlife women report forgetfulness, but none has seen a link between menopausal symptoms and memory.

But, said Maki, a University of Illinois researcher who uses only one name: “The problem is that the physiology of hot flushes and the science of hot flashes is more complex than we previously understood.”

The study enrolled 29 midlife women with moderate to severe hot flashes and provided them with monitors that measured changes in skin conductance during a hot flush.

Hot flushes were recorded during a 24-hour period, with the average number of objective hot flushes coming to 19.5 per day.

During this period, the study also measured memory performance — the recollection of words, names, word pairs, paragraphs and stories — using standard neuropsychological tests.

“When we looked at the relationship between the hot flushes that the monitor picked up — and memory performance on the cognitive tests, we found a very strong relationship. So, the more true hot flushes a woman had, the worse her memory performance,” said Maki.

“In other words, the hot flash-memory relationship is not all in a woman’s head. It’s actually a physiological relationship that you can pick up on, if you measure hot flashes objectively with a monitor.”

“The total number of hours slept predicted worse memory performance, but also the total number of hot flashes during the night when a woman was sleeping predicted memory dysfunction,” Maki said.

“So, the two together worsen memory in women the next day.”

The findings of the study have been published online in the journal Menopause.

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