By Dr. Brian McDonoughSponsored By Independence Blue Cross

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Heart disease is on the rise in women and there are several things we can clearly associate with this problem.

Of course, we have been seeing this for over 50 years.

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Initially the research surrounded monitoring the increased rate of cigarette smoking in women that we saw decades ago and the associated heart disease risk.

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Over the past 30 years we have measured the increased number of women entering the work force and the lifestyle issues associated with this that are not always good for people’s overall health.

Now, there is new information looking at other factors contributing to the high risk of cardiovascular disease and, according to research in the journal “Heart,” women who have early onset of menstruation and early menopause are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

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This study suggests that these reproductive factors should be considered along with the traditional factors such as elevated blood pressure, smoking, and obesity.