Menopausal Hormone Therapy May Reduce Risk of Heart Failure
Most women (and their partners!) can tell you the symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes and sudden temperature changes top the list, and are followed closely with night sweats, decreased libido, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, and mood swings. But what everyone seems to overlook is the link between menopause and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Research has shown that there is a connection with menopause and cardiovascular risk factors, like a rise in the bad cholesterol (LDL) and a decrease in the good cholesterol (HDL) within the body. And other studies have shown that younger women who experience early menopause (about age 45) have more heart health issues than women who experience menopause closer to the normal age of 50.
The Impact of Menopause on the Body
The symptoms of menopause and the problems they cause are one thing, but menopause can impact the entire body. As women age, the ovaries gradually stop producing the hormone estrogen, which can ultimately lead to brittle bones and a risk of osteoporosis, along with other problems. Loss of estrogen produces a complex litany of issues within the body, which need to be monitored and potentially treated. Menopausal hormone therapy, which used to be called hormone replacement therapy for women, can not only help to treat the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, but can also help provide favorable cardiovascular outcomes as well.
This was confirmed by a large research study conducted at the Queen Mary University of London. The study was designed to determine whether menopausal hormone therapy had any adverse effects on the heart’s structure or function. The results showed that not only were there no adverse impacts on the heart, the therapy was actually associated with healthier heart characteristics, particularly a lower risk of heart failure.
One of the main areas that researchers focused on was the left ventricular mass of the heart, which is one of the key characteristics that are observed in cardiovascular imaging. If there is an increase seen in left ventricular mass, it could predict the potential for a higher number of cardiovascular maladies, along with an increase in mortality. But the study showed no such increase in women who had hormone replacement therapy.
Is MHT Right for You?
Most physicians know that menopausal hormone replacement therapy is not something that is prescribed to help prevent possible cardiovascular problems. There are many other tests and treatments that are available to address any particular cardiovascular symptoms a patient may display.
But physicians would prescribe menopausal hormone therapy to help alleviate symptoms that occur due to menopause and the resulting loss of estrogen production within your body. Each patient is unique, and only a candid discussion between you and your healthcare provider can determine whether menopausal hormone therapy is right for your situation.
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