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: AbbVie to pay Shire $1.64B fee over nixed merger

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Arguments made in ex-dictator's suit against game

3 hours ago

(AP)—A judge has heard arguments from lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani calling for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against video game giant Activision by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

Recommended for you

New MCAT shifts focus, will include humanities

17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has been revised, and the latest changes, including more humanities such as social sciences, are due to be implemented next April, according to a report ...

Using feminist theory to understand male rape

Oct 20, 2014

Decades of feminist research have framed rape and sexual assault as a 'women's issue', leaving little room for the experiences of male victims. But a new study published in the Journal of Gender Studies suggests that feminist ...

Simulation-based training improves endoscopy execution

Oct 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—Simulation-based training (SBT) improves clinicians' performance of gastrointestinal endoscopy in both test settings and clinical practice, according to research published in the October issue ...

User comments : 0