Hormone Replacement Therapy May Decrease Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

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A common treatment for postmenopausal women, hormone replacement therapy has long since provided a list of pros and cons for supporters and critics. It is believed that fluctuating hormone levels that come as a result of menopause may affect several risk factors associated with coronary heart disease. Because of this, recent studies have been conducted to determine the correlation between cardiovascular disease and hormone replacement therapy. Researchers are currently examining the benefits related to decrease in coronary heart disease over the other potential side effects cause by hormone replacement therapy.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a concern that cannot go unnoticed. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of American women, causing more than half a million deaths each year. As women get older, they are at an increased risk for developing coronary heart disease. Its occurrence is rare before menopause. As it is assumed that the loss of estrogen from menopause can cause CHD, it is also presumed that estrogen replacement therapy and hormone replacement therapy could possibly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in post menopausal women.

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It is uncommon that estrogen is used solely as treatment in postmenopausal women (unless they do not have an intact uterus) because of possible cancer increasing side effects. Therefore hormone replacement therapy, the combination of estrogens and progestins, is more often used for post menopause symptoms. Still, both estrogen replacement therapy and hormone replacement therapy have shown a beneficial effect on risk factors for coronary heart disease. Both treatments alter unfavorable lipid profiles, an significant factor as elevated blood lipid levels are risk factors in the development of coronary heart disease in women.

Other Benefits of Estrogen Replacement Therapy and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Estrogen replacement therapy may prevent or delay Alzheimer disease. It also improves cognitive function. Increases regional cerebral blood flow and alleviates symptoms of dementia.

Hormone replacement therapy relieves hot flashes and night sweats and other postmenopause symptoms. It also prevents osteoporosis.

Risks of Estrogen Replacement Therapy and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Replacement estrogen may increase endometrial and breast cancers as well as thromboembolic events.

There is not clear consensus linking hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer. Coronary heart disease causes three times as many deaths as breast cancer however.

Estrogen replacement therapy and hormone replacement therapy, like all treatment, have the good and the bad. Both treatments are known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. They may also slow or prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. On the downside, they may also increase the risk of cancer. It is important for women considering hormone replacement therapy to talk to their doctors about the pros and cons of such treatments.