Doctors seek the key to understanding hot flushes

Doctors at the University of Glasgow are launching an investigation into hot flushing.

And they are looking for volunteers to take part in a study that will pave the way for a more effective treatment of the condition.

Dr Helen Fox, from the University’s Division of Developmental Medicine, said: “We are looking for women who want to help us gain a greater understanding of hot flushes.

“Around 75 per cent of postmenopausal women experience hot flushing and in around a quarter of those it will affect home, social life and even the ability to work. Hot flushes are the commonest indication for the prescription of hormone replacement therapy since it is effective in more than 80 per cent of cases

“However, both women and their doctors have become increasingly concerned in recent years with the well published risks of taking HRT. Further investigation of the mechanism of hot flushing is important if alternatives are to be developed.

“We are looking for women aged 50-65 who are not using HRT, including those who flush and those who do not and the study will involve the use of a non-invasive machine to assess the functioning of women’s peripheral blood vessels.”

Hot flushes are typically experienced as a feeling of intense heat with sweating and rapid heartbeat, and may typically last from two to thirty minutes for each occurrence. The event may be repeated a few times each week or constantly throughout the day.

Some women undergoing menopause never have hot flushes. Others have mild or infrequent flushes. The worst sufferers experience dozens of hot flushes each day. If left untreated, hot flushes resolve with time in a majority of postmenopausal women although they may last for more than 10 years in up to 10 per cent of cases.

Dr Fox added: “Over the last few years, studies have caused concern among women since they perceive that the risks outweigh the benefits. Alternatives are available but none are as effective as HRT. Flushing has once again become an important issue and the search for the mechanism vital in order that non-hormonal strategies for their relief can be developed.

“For the volunteers, the consultation will take place at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow, it will last less than an hour and won’t involve any painful procedures.

“I would encourage anyone who wants to help in the understanding of hot flushing to put themselves forward for this.

“With your help we can unlock the secrets of the body and help provide relief from this condition for future generations.”

To volunteer for the study, please contact Dr Helen Fox on 0141 211 4707 or email

The research has been funded by the Translational Medical Research Council, a unique collaboration between the pharmaceutical firm Wyeth and the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Notes for editors

For more information, please contact Ray McHugh from the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email


First published: 24 October 2007

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