Women should receive "menopause checks" at 40, MPs have said as experts have highlighted the risk of women developing heart problems during the menopausal period.
MPs have called for menopause to be included in the NHS's mid-life MOT test – a health check offered every five years to people aged 40 to 74.
The Menopause All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) said a large number of women over the age of 40 attend GP surgeries with menopausal symptoms but are unaware that they are experiencing menopause or perimenopause.
And doctors can often fail to recognise the symptoms too, the MPs said.
They called for discussion and diagnosis to be incorporated into the NHS Health Check for women over 40.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease During Menopause
It comes as a new document highlights that women going through the menopause are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), also known as heart and circulatory problems. This is, in part, due to changes in a woman's muscle composition and metabolism, and menopause symptoms such as particularly hot flushes, sleep disturbances, and depression, researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine said.
The document, published by the International Menopause Society, also states that there are other "reproductive milestones" linked to an increased risk of CVD among women including period problems and difficulties during pregnancy. High blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy or menopause and experiencing premature menopause — before age 40 — have also all been recognised in the paper as CVD risk factors.
Professor Nick Panay, president of the International Menopause Society, said: "There is compelling and emerging evidence that the cardiovascular health of women at midlife and beyond reflects reproductive events over their lifespan.
"This includes issues related to the menstrual cycle, complications during pregnancy and the effects of natural and premature menopause.
"During midlife, there is a great opportunity for most women, with the support of their healthcare providers, to improve their cardiovascular health and their future quality of life through healthy lifestyle choices such as following a well-balanced diet, exercising, stopping smoking and moderating alcohol consumption."
Clinicians Should Feel "Equipped and Empowered"
Elsewhere the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has joined forces with the campaign group Menopause Mandate to encourage women to have a conversation about their risk of heart disease and what they can do to reduce the risk.
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director of the BHF, said: "Changes to a woman's body during menopause, such as fallen oestrogen levels, are linked with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. After the menopause, the chance of a woman having a heart attack is drastically increased.
"All too often women don't prioritise their own health. As we women approach menopause, it is a perfect opportunity to reassess our risks of future cardiovascular disease and to take steps to protect our hearts.
Meanwhile, the APPG also called for more to be done to ensure medical professionals feel "equipped and empowered" to prescribe all types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and for action to be taken to reduce supply issues of the drug.
The group, chaired by Labour MP for Swansea Carolyn Harris, also said the Government should mandate large companies to ensure they have workforce policies in place to support women as they go through the menopause. Ms Harris said: "We still have many hurdles to tackle to ensure women suffering through menopause get the support they deserve.
"Day in, day out I hear stories from women who can't get a diagnosis from their GP, who can't get HRT due to a lack of supply, who have left their jobs due to a lack of support, or who simply don't know where to turn for help."