Women who suffer longer periods than normal before hitting menopause could be more likely to get heart disease, research suggests.
Experts found women whose cycles lasted longer than expected five years prior to going through 'the change' had unhealthier arteries, compared to women who saw their periods barely change.
However, women who had unusually long periods for only two years before reaching the menopause had the heathiest arteries of all.
Academics from the University of Pittsburgh made the claim after analysing data for 428 women between 45 to 52 in the US.
Menopause, which can commonly symptoms such as hot flushes, usually hits women between 44 to 55-years-of-age in the UK. Now a new study suggests the length of the final periods before menopause could carry important clues to the future risk of heart disease the biggest killer of women in the UK (stock image)
Menopause is defined as the changes a woman goes through just before and after she stops her periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
Some women go through this time with few, if any, symptoms, around 60 percent experience symptoms resulting in behavioral changes and one in four will suffer severely.
Common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness leading to discomfort during sex, disrupted sleep, decreased sex drive, problems with memory and concentration and mood swings.
Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51, according to the NHS.
They looked at whether the women's periods leading up to the menopause were stable, or if they became longer five years prior to menopause, or two years prior.
Heart disease is the biggest killer of women in the UK, with 24,000 women dying of condition every year. It is also the leading cause of death for women in the US, killing 300,000 women annually.
The average menstrual cycle lasts