Long held medical belief is that women have a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease after menopause, but new research from Johns Hopkins debunks that belief.
The research found that aging and not hormonal changes brought on by menopause cause deaths from cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease mortality rates in women progress at a constant rate as they age, the research found.
The findings were published in BMJ, the British medical journal.
Hopkins scientists believe the findings could have implications for how heart health is assessed in premenopausal women.
"Our data show there is no big shift toward higher fatal heart attack rates after menopause," said Dhananjay Vaidya, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study's leader.
"What we believe is going on is that the cells of the heart and arteries are aging like every other tissue in the body, and that is why we see more and more heart attacks every year as women age.
"Aging itself is an adequate explanation and the arrival of menopause with its altered hormonal impact does not seem to play a role."
In addition, Vaidya said his team found that the number of women who die each year from heart disease increases exponentially at roughly 8 percent per year.
The statistical death rate curve stays steady throughout life, he says, increasing risk annually in the same way compound interest increases a bank account balance over time.