A recent poll showed that most women’s number one health concern is cancer, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women over age 65 in the United States. Heart disease is the second leading cause of death for women age 45-64, and the third leading cause of death among females 25-44.
When we think of heart health, the first things that come to mind may be diet and exercise. Certainly, eating nutritious foods and a balanced diet and appropriate exercise are important to all facets of our health. However, what you might not know is how customized hormone therapy and use of quality supplements (such as the proper form of vitamin D) can improve and maintain your cardiovascular health.
Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become occluded, a condition resulting from the buildup of plaque on the inner walls or lining of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Excess cholesterol can contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries. Restoring hormones such as pregnenolone to youthful levels has been shown to lower cholesterol. In one study, women received hormone restoration therapy with pregnenolone, DHEA, estrogen gel, progesterone gel, and testosterone gel to correct high cholesterol levels. Their average total cholesterol at the beginning of this study-263.5 mg/dL-was reduced to 187.9 mg/dL after treatment. The study results suggest that when hormones are in optimal proportions, the body’s tendency to manufacture excess cholesterol may be normalized.1
Stress activates cortisol, and an abnormal cortisol pattern has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. Researchers at The University of Texas at Tyler, led by Kenna Stephenson, M.D., showed that use of progesterone in a topical cream (20 mg per day) in women with high cholesterol reduced nocturnal cortisol levels to normal range while they were using the progesterone cream as compared to placebo.2
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study was designed to identify the potential risks and benefits of HRT. The estrogen-progestin portion of the clinical trial was stopped in 2002 after results showed that a synthetic hormone combination containing conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) plus medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) increased the women’s risks of developing invasive breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. The “estrogen-only” portion of the WHI study was halted in March 2004 after analysis of data suggested that synthetic CEE alone had no impact either way on heart disease (the main focus of the study), but may increase the risk of stroke.
A review of the medical literature concluded that oral estrogen replacement is associated with an increased risk for venous thromboembolism (blood clots).3 The use of oral conjugated estrogens plus synthetic progestins in postmenopausal women may double the risk of development of venous thrombosis.4 However, the choice of transdermal route of administration of estradiol and the use of natural progesterone might offer significant benefits and added safety. 5
Ask our compounding pharmacist about customized hormone therapy.
1 Med Hypotheses. 2002 Dec;59(6):751-6.
2 Blood 2004 Nov; 104(11):16
3 Ann Intern Med. 2002 May 7;136(9):680-90.
4 JAMA. 2004 Oct 6;292(13):1573-80.
5 Maturitas. 2008 Jul-Aug;60(3-4):185-201.