HRT and Your Heart
presented at this year's American College of Cardiology's Annual Meeting (3/01)
indicate that estrogen helps improve several markers of cardiovascular disease.
In one clinical
trial, researchers concluded that low-dose estrogen has a beneficial effect
on blood vessels similar to that of standard doses of estrogen.
In an experimental
animal model study, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) resulted in a lower
tendency to develop blood clots, which may indicate a reduction of heart problems
in postmenopausal women treated preventively with ERT.
It is well
known that both hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and a popular cholesterol-lowering
drug, simvastatin, produce favorable changes in blood cholesterol levels; another
study presented showed that when combined, they were more effective than either
therapy alone. This supports the National Cholesterol Education Program recommendation
to consider HRT when treating high cholesterol in postmenopausal women.
A fourth study presented showed that estrogen therapy may
not slow progression of atheroscleotic plaque buildup in women who already had
coronary heart disease. These results are consistent with several other studies
[which showed that estrogen does not impact the risks of heart disease in women
who are already significantly affected [e.g. the 1998 Heart and Estrogen/Progestin
Replacement Study (HERS) indicating that HRT did not have a significant effect
on the overall rate of cardiac events in postmenopausal women with heart disease].
The body of evidence in this
arena supports that estrogen may have a primary preventive benefit in reducing
heart disease risk, but not a therapeutic one.
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Created: 9/12/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.