Women’s Reproductive Milestones and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: A Review of Reports and Opportunities From the CARDIA Study

Catherine Kim*, Janet Catov, Pamela J. Schreiner, Duke Appiah, Melissa F. Wellons, David Siscovick, Ronit Calderon-Margalit, Heather Huddleston, Imo Asuquo Ebong, Cora E. Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In 1985 to 1986, the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study enrolled 5115 Black or White participants, including 2788 women, aged 18 to 30 years. Over the following 35 years, the CARDIA study amassed extensive longitudinal data on women’s reproductive milestones, spanning menarche to menopause. Although not initially conceived as a study of women’s health, >75 CARDIA study publications address relationships between reproductive factors and events with cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, subclinical and clinical cardiovascular disease, and social determi-nants of health. The CARDIA study was one of the earliest population-based reports to note Black-White differences in age at menarche and associations with cardiovascular risk factors. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly gestational diabetes and preterm birth, have been assessed along with postpartum behaviors, such as lactation. Existing studies have examined risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes and lactation, as well as their relationship to future cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, diagnoses, and subclinical atherosclerosis. Ancillary studies examining components of polycystic ovary syndrome and ovarian biomarkers, such as anti-Müllerian hormone, have facilitated examination of reproductive health in a population-based cohort of young adult women. As the cohort transitioned through menopause, examination of the importance of pre-menopausal cardiovascular risk factors along with menopause has improved our understanding of shared mechanisms. The cohort is now aged in the 50s to mid-60s, and women will begin to experience a greater number of cardiovascular events as well as other conditions, such as cognitive impairment. Thus, in the next decade, the CARDIA study will provide a unique resource for understanding how the women’s reproductive life course epidemiology informs cardiovascular risk, as well as reproductive and chronological aging.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere028132
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley.


  • fertility
  • lactation
  • menarche
  • menopause
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • pregnancy


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