Menopause is an important physiological stage in women's life. The potential association of menopause with carotid intima-media thickness as well as with occurrence and stability of carotid plaque in Chinese female population is unclear. We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional study by recruiting 2,131 participants aged above 40 years from northeast of China. Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), presence of carotid plaque and its stability were evaluated by carotid duplex sonography. Among the participants, 1,133 (53.2%) were identified to be postmenopausal. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, presence of CIMT at 50th-75th and ≥ 75th percentiles, carotid plaque and its unstable status were found to be significantly associated with the postmenopausal status (P < 0.001). When matched the participants by age, post-menopausal status was still associated with a higher risk of having unstable plaque. Moreover, our data show that postmenopausal status is a risk factor for intracranial arterial stenosis when compared with premenopausal status in the univariate analysis (OR = 1.314, P = 0.043), and such relationship is lost when the confounding factors are adjusted (OR = 0.828, P = 0.225). In conclusion, the vascular risk factors increase as the menopausal status changes. Compared with premenopausal status, postmenopausal status is associated with higher morbidity of CIMT, carotid plaque and its unstable status.
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