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  • Writer's pictureMonica Bell

Estrogen and Cardiovascular Disease

We love estrogen at Optimal Hormone Health for many reasons:

  • Improved concentration and memory

  • Increased bone density and muscle mass

  • Boosts your mood

  • Estrogen is vital to your sex life. The hormone keeps your vagina lubricated so sex is enjoyable. When estrogen levels are low, your vagina walls get thin and produce less lubricant.

  • Improvement in libido

  • Increased energy

But there is another critical benefit of estrogen replacement- your heart. According to the CDC, “Over 60 million women (44%) in the United States live with some form of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States and can affect women at any age. In 2020, it was responsible for the deaths of 314,186 women—or about 1 in every 5 female deaths. Research has shown that only about half (56%) of US women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.”


What does estrogen have to do with heart disease? As it turns out, quite a lot.

 

What Role Does Estrogen Have on the Cardiovascular System?


Let’s examine how estrogen can prevent heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. According to the Cleveland Clinic, estrogen increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and decreases LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).


Estrogen also relaxes, smooths, and dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow. It soaks up free radicals, naturally occurring particles in the blood that can damage the arteries and other tissues.


Estrogen helps a younger woman’s body protect her against heart disease by changing the walls of the blood vessels, making it less likely for plaque and blood clots to form. Estrogen possesses a vasodilating property, which can improve cardiac performance in ischemic heart disease. In addition, recent studies have demonstrated that estrogens exhibit a high antioxidant effect, which may also be related to cardioprotectivity


In Summary:

  • Estrogen increases HDL cholesterol and decreases LDL cholesterol.

  • Estrogen also relaxes, smooths, and dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow. It also soaks up free radicals, naturally occurring particles in the blood that can damage the arteries and other tissues.

  • Estrogen lowers blood pressure by several mechanisms.

  • Changes in the level of lipids (fats) in the blood occur during menopause, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Menopause is accompanied by a dramatic rise in the prevalence of hypertension in women, suggesting a protective role of estradiol on blood pressure. Human clinical investigations indicate that estrogen engages several mechanisms that protect against hypertension.

  • Estrogen soaks up free radicals, naturally occurring particles in the blood that can damage the arteries and other tissues.

  • Estradiol improved insulin sensitivity in women with cardiovascular disease.

  • It makes sense that replacing estrogen through HRT would potentially improve heart health


As women approach mid-life, estrogen levels start to fluctuate and then drop. Most women notice that their periods stop being predictable. They may become shorter, longer, heavier, or lighter than usual, and the spacing between periods may change until a woman starts to skip her periods altogether. Eventually, they will cease.


During menopause, a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs and produce fewer female hormones. If you are in menopause, your estrogen levels could be critically low, putting you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease and other physical changes such as osteoporosis.

 

Other Factors Affecting Heart Disease Risk


The incidence of heart disease and lifestyle factors are linked. Taking estrogen alone may help, but mitigating your other risk factors is the perfect combination. Why? Because when you are healthy, you also minimize the risk of obesity, depression and anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic medical conditions. If you haven’t already, these are the things you can do:

  • Avoid or quit smoking

  • Lose weight and or maintain your ideal body weight

  • Participate in aerobic exercise for 30-40 minutes, three to five times per week

  • Follow a diet low in saturated fat (< 7% daily amount); low in trans-fat (partially hydrogenated fats such as margarine or shortening); and high in fiber, whole grains, legumes (such as beans and peas), fruits, vegetables, fish and folate-rich foods

  • Treat and manage medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure that are known risk factors for heart disease


Estrogen replacement is a logical step to take during perimenopause and menopause after we assess your risk factors and draw labs to determine where your estrogen levels are. But our assessment does not stop there. Evaluating lifestyle factors and considering other hormone replacements such as testosterone and progesterone are part of your healthcare journey.


At Optimal Hormone Therapy, your goals are our goals. Cardiovascular protection, increased bone density, improved mood, energy, and libido are within your reach.


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