What is the Relationship between Menopause and Heart Health?
Researchers had previously discovered that menopause affects the heart, but a new study has revealed that the outcome of previous studies may vary. Research findings could change the way doctors administer hormone replacement therapy.
As a person ages, the likelihood of developing heart disease increases. However, the period in which female deaths are most intense in the United States has been recorded as the menopause period.
Experts point to the drop in estrogen, which helps arteries work properly.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one way to treat the symptoms caused by this decline, but the fears surrounding this treatment have never subsided since decades of research announced a link between heart disease and cancer and menopause.
The American Heart Association (AHA), for example, cautions against using therapy to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
A 2017 JAMA study found that women who took HRT tablets were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer or another cause within 18 years and were more likely to develop any of these diseases within 18 years than women who did not take HRT tablets. Despite this, people are still reluctant to try the treatment.
Imitating the Perimenopausal Period
The new findings mean that HRT may be effective in protecting the heart, but it doesn’t work for people to take it after menopause.
The new study, appearing in Acta Physiologica, followed the health of the hearts of premenopausal women. This period is called perimenopause.
Previously, researchers only studied menopausal or postmenopausal hearts because scientists were unable to replicate the perimenopausal stage in mice.
But a team from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, was able to replicate the perimenopausal stage in mice.
Senior author Prof. “Laboratory rats can also enter immediate menopause by removing their ovaries, but this cannot capture the gradual change of menopause,” says Glen Pyle. “A mouse’s ovaries may now fail over time to mimic the transition of menopausal periods seen in women.”
Testing the “Timing Hypothesis”
As a result, a group of mice slowly entered menopause over 4 months. Their hearts looked normal and seemed to work the same, but “stress markers” appeared.
“So, it’s like a house that looks nice, but there’s a leak in the foundation,” Pyle said.
The team administered estrogen-mimicking drugs to mice during perimenopause.
“We wanted to test the timing hypothesis: the idea that there is a window of opportunity to take estrogen, that we were able to detect that window and see how menopause affects the response to estrogens,” Pyle says.
When they looked at how the mice’s hearts responded to estrogen, the researchers noted small but important differences that indicated molecular changes in this vital organ.
prof. According to Pyle, this showed that the heart “changes during the perimenopausal period.”
When to Try HRT
prof. “This tells us we won’t be able to deliver estrogens to the heart for years after menopause,” Pyle said. “
“He also told us that timing is important and that estrogen therapy should be timely, that we should not offer it sooner and wait until after menopause.”
Most importantly, the study authors want people to see HRT as a preventative treatment once again, rather than being afraid.
“We went back to work with this study to get answers on how menopause changes the heart,” the senior researcher said.
The researcher said, “This is a fundamental question that we need to answer. And now we know there have been small but significant changes.”
“We want to continue this research to fine-tune estrogen replacement therapy to find out how it can be used beneficially because there is so much evidence to show that it works.”
Medical News Today, Menopause and heart health: Why timing hormone therapy is key, 2019.