Blood cholesterol levels predict risk of heart disease due to hormone therapy

May 23, 2008

A new analysis of a subgroup of participants in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) hormone therapy clinical trials suggests that healthy, postmenopausal women whose blood cholesterol levels are normal or lower are not at increased, short-term risk for heart attack when taking hormone therapy. In particular, postmenopausal women who had no history of heart disease but whose ratio of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol was less than 2.5 were at no increased risk of heart attack or death due to heart attack from taking estrogen plus progestin or estrogen alone, compared to their peers who did not take hormone therapy, after four years of follow up.

“Usefulness of Baseline Lipids and C-Reactive Protein in Women Receiving Menopausal Hormone Therapy as Predictors of Treatment-Related Coronary Events,” will be published in the June 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

Michael S. Lauer, M.D., director of the NHLBI Division of Prevention and Population Sciences, is available to comment on this latest analysis of the WHI hormone therapy clinical trials. He emphasizes that the primary results of the WHI hormone therapy clinical trials indicate that, overall, neither form of hormone therapy reduces the risk of heart disease in healthy, postmenopausal women, and estrogen plus progestin increases a women’s risk of heart disease.

In addition, both estrogen plus progestin and estrogen alone increase the risk of stroke and blood clots – serious cardiovascular conditions that the new analysis does not address. Combination hormone therapy also increases the risk of breast cancer.

Identifying which women are more likely to be at increased risk for heart attack when taking hormone therapy can help women and their clinicians make better informed decisions about whether the benefits of hormone therapy outweigh the risks.

In general, however, women should not take hormone therapy to prevent heart disease, and women who choose to use hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms should use the lowest possible dose for the shortest duration. In addition, all women whose blood cholesterol levels are elevated are at increased risk of heart disease, regardless of whether they use hormone therapy, and they should take steps to lower their risk. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both women and men in the United States.

Source: NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Explore further: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why dogs are the new darlings of cognitive science

May 23, 2014

This will be his earliest memory. Red light, morning light. High ceiling canted overhead. Lazy click of toenails on wood. Between the honey-colored slats of the crib a whiskery muzzle slides forward until it ...

Recommended for you

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

22 hours ago

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

User comments : 0