Hidden toll: Latest research links hysterectomy to severe consequences

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hysterectomy-may-have-severe-consequences(NaturalHealth365)  For many years, a hysterectomy has been a frequently recommended surgical procedure to address various gynecological issues.  Ideally, this surgery should only be considered when all other treatment options have been exhausted due to its irreversible nature and potential long-term implications.  However, in many cases, this surgical procedure has been performed more often than necessary.

Recently, new insights have emerged regarding the consequences of hysterectomy.  A study unveiled at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in November 2023 has shed light on a concerning association.  The research indicates a significant connection between undergoing a hysterectomy and the development of metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that, when occurring together, increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Hysterectomy and cardiovascular risk: A staggering 52% increase with uterus removal

The study analyzed the medical data of 1,355 women with a median age of 59 who were participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).  All of the participants for this portion of the study self-reported having some type of hysterectomy, meaning the removal of either the uterus, ovaries, or both.

The researchers conducted several follow-ups with the women over the ten-year study and compared their risks of developing metabolic syndrome to women who had not undergone the surgery.  They found that women who had only had surgery to remove their uterus increased their risk by 52%.  Those who had both their uterus and ovaries removed faced an increased risk of 38%.

Common factors of women who developed metabolic syndrome included:

  • They were older
  • Overweight
  • Less physically active
  • Had given birth to at least three children
  • Menopausal
  • Had not been on hormone therapy

At this point, doctors are not certain why ovary-sparing hysterectomies seem to contribute to an increased cardiovascular risk.

How common is hysterectomy?

Among reproductive-age women, hysterectomy is the most common surgery, second only to Caesarean section.  It is estimated that one in every three women will have the surgery by the time they reach their 60th birthday.  While there is still a very high number of hysterectomies performed every year, around 500,000 annually, it is lower than the 600,000 performed in 1980.

In most cases, this elective surgery is not the only, or best option.  Often women are misinformed or not informed at all about other available treatments or even their choices regarding the extent of the surgery.

What if your doctor recommends that you get a hysterectomy?

If your doctor recommends a hysterectomy, get a second opinion before making a decision.  It is best if you can discuss your options with a doctor who specializes in your condition.  There may be less invasive or less drastic treatment options available.  Medical technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and new treatments are being developed all the time.

It is also important to know exactly which surgery you will undergo and what will be removed.  The term “hysterectomy” is often misused by many women, which can lead to a misunderstanding of what is exactly being removed.  There are several types of surgeries that address the removal of the female reproductive organs:

  • Complete hysterectomy:  Removal of the entire uterus
  • Partial hysterectomy:  Removal of the fundus (top part of the uterus), but the cervix is left in place
  • Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy:  Removal of the whole uterus, cervix, both ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Before consenting to a hysterectomy, you should discuss any potential cardiovascular risks with your doctor.  If there are any concerns or if there is a history of cardiovascular disease in your family, you may want to consult with a holistic cardiologist first.

Strategies to reduce your cardiovascular risks after hysterectomy

Having a hysterectomy does not automatically mean that you will develop metabolic syndrome, but it does mean that your risks may be greater.  The best ways to reduce your cardiovascular risks after hysterectomy are to stay on top of your cardiovascular health and do what you can to minimize your other risk factors.  This includes:

  • Get regular cardiovascular screenings
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Eat organic whole foods such as, fresh fruits and vegetables plus healthy fats and protein
  • Reduce your consumption of animal protein – treat meats such as 100% grass fed beef and pasture raised chicken as a side dish instead of the main part of your meal
  • Eat a balanced diet that is mostly plant-based including some sprouts, nuts and seeds
  • If you smoke, quit
  • Review your current medications with your doctor and/or pharmacist to see if any already present an increased risk to your cardiovascular health
  • Minimize your alcohol consumption
  • Get regular exercise at least three or four days a week
  • Stay properly hydrated with a clean water source
  • Reduce your stress load with ways to relax and have fun
  • Make self-care a priority

Whether you are considering a hysterectomy or have already had a hysterectomy, you need to consider your cardiovascular health and make the necessary adjustments.  For those who have already had the surgery, take the necessary steps to improve your health and minimize your risks.  For those who are thinking about getting the surgery, evaluate the risks and benefits of the procedure.

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